A high court in Pakistan's capital city had enough with Cupid, ruling Monday to outlaw Valentine's Day celebrations and the promotion of the holiday nationwide with immediate effect.
Just one day before the holiday, the court instructed all media outlets to “stop all Valentine's Day promotions immediately.” Valentine's Day is named after a Christian saint who, legend has it, was martyred in the name of love.
Mostly Muslim Pakistan has very strict laws against blaspheming Islam. For years, Valentine's Day has drawn protests from a constellation of religious organizations claiming Valentine's Day violates Islamic sensibilities and traditions.
Today's WorldView What's most important from where the world meets Washington Sign up Pakistan is not alone. Each year, Iranian officials launch another crackdown on Valentine's Day to try to blunt its growing popularity among the young. Cities across Indonesia also have sided with Islamic protests to take a stand against the celebration.
The ban in Pakistan had been spearheaded by a petition led by a mysterious figure named Abdul Waheed, whose official affiliation is unclear. His plea to the court argued that the holiday is “against Islamic teachings” and while purporting to promote love, it instead propagates “immorality, nudity and indecency.”
Last year, Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain joined the anti-Valentine's Day chorus, saying the holiday “has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” and pointedly jibing at India with a claim that Western traditions had “adversely affected one of our neighboring countries.”
In 2013, protesters burned Valentine's Day cards in the northwestern city of Peshawar. In response, a prominent rights activist in the country's biggest city, Karachi, staged a daring counterprotest in which she held signs reading “Pyaar ho jaane do” (Let there be love) and “Karachi says yes to love.”
The activist, Sabeen Mahmud, received regular death threats for her defense of the holiday. On April 24, 2015, she was shot point blank by an assassin. Her killer, Saad Aziz, cited her Valentine's Day advocacy in an interview from jail.