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Valentine’s Day Banned in Saudi Arabia: Valentines Are Contraband Say Police

February 11, 2010
* (en) Saudi Arabia Location * (he) מיקום ערב ...
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Yes, they want acceptance in the Christian world, but Christian holiday celebrations, a celebration of love, is banned in the Muslim governed Saudi Arabia, enforced by religious police.  Any celebration of Western holidays is apparently banned, but with Valentine’s Day coming up, the religious police are out if force.  Why not fight love with war in Saudi Arabia, right?

Most shops in Riyadh’s upscale neighborhoods have removed all red items from their shelves. A statement by the religious police, informally known as the muttawa, was published in Saudi newspapers, warning shop owners against any violations.

“Those who don’t comply will be punished,” the statement said, without spelling out what measures would befall the offenders.

The Valentine’s Day prohibition is in line with Saudi’s strict Wahhabi school of Islam that the kingdom has followed for more than a century. The birthplace of Islam also bans several Muslim holidays except the two most important ones because it considers them “religious innovations” that Islam doesn’t sanction.

Even birthdays and Mother’s Day are frowned on by the religious establishment, although people almost never get punished for celebrating them.

Many Saudis, who still want to mark the popular Valentine’s, do their shopping weeks before the holiday.

Each year, the religious police mobilize ahead of Feb. 14 and descend on gift and flower shops, confiscating all red items, including flowers.

Attitudes toward Valentine’s Day vary across the Arab world, with devout Muslims opposing the holiday as a Western celebration of romantic love that corrupts Muslim youth.

The Egyptian capital, Cairo, is a sharp contrast to the Saudi restrictions, with shops and restaurants going overboard in red ribbon and heart decorations.

The Egyptians are allowed romance but the Saudis are not.  Apparently when it comes to Valentines, the Saudis fight love with fire.

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