village of Kohat, located in the country’s north-western Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa region, has prohibited local shops from selling Valentine’s
Day gifts and cards, although police have yet to enforce the ban.
drastic move comes after conservative Islamic groups lobbied to have
the holiday banned due to its “decadent” nature that they say may
Kohat is located near Pakistan’s tribal area, which is known for its conservative Muslim majority population.
As BBC News reports,
Maulana Niaz Muhammad, district administrator for the city, says that
the holiday was banned for fear it would encourage “obscene” behavior.
“Valentine’s Day has no legal grounds, and secondly it is against our religion, therefore it was banned,” Muhammad said.
celebration of the February 14 holiday has been an issue for Pakistan
before, with conservative Muslims arguing that the observance gives into
western values of romance and sexualization.
While there have
been calls to ban the festive day in cities like Islamabad and Karachi
in the past, Kohat appears to be the first city following through with
an official government ban on the celebration.
Jamaat-et-Islami political party paid to have billboards erected in
Karachi that called on residents to “Say No to Valentine’s Day.”
Syed Askari, a spokesman for the group, told The Express Tribune that Muslims believe Valentine’s Day goes against their values of marriage.
is against Islamic culture. In our view, relationships are sacred. We
have arranged marriages in this culture and people don’t get married for
love,” the political leader said, adding, “This is imposing Western
values and cultures on an Islamic society.”
According to the Hindustan Times,
fights broke out in Karachi in 2015 when students with the Quran
Academy, an Islamic seminary, began attacking young couples attending a
public Valentine’ Day party. The young activists separated men from
women, destroyed decorations and interrupted entertainment.
Manusi, who serves as the nazim of the seminary, told the media outlet
that the aggressive acts of the students were not supported by
“We do not encourage violence but this was too much for them to see and keep quiet,” he said.
protests from hardline Muslim groups, shop and restaurant owners in
several cities argue that business is better than ever on February 14,
owing the popularity of the holiday to younger Pakistani generations.
with Kohat, the town of Banda Aceh in Indonesia announced earlier this
month that it was banning the romantic day due to its secular nature.
Illiza Saaduddin Djamal, the town’s mayor, argued that the holiday should be banned because it has no connection to Islam.
“Our society and the Muslim youth should certainly not be celebrating non-Islamic holidays,” the mayor said, according to Breitbart News. “The law says it is haram. The government is obliged to protect the public and younger generation from unlawful acts.”