Valentine’s Day has effectively been banned in Pakistan after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled on Monday to prohibit marking the occasion in public spaces and government offices across the country, effective immediately, regional media reported.
The court ruling came as the result of a petition started by concerned citizen Abdul Waheed, who complained that promoting the holiday in the media and across social networks is “against Islamic teachings and should be banned immediately.”
All print and online media outlets have been ordered to “stop all Valentine’s Day promotions,” and celebrating the occasion in public too has been banned.
Justice Shaukat Aziz, who made the ruling, directed the Federal Ministry of Information, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and the Islamabad High Commission to start implementing the court’s decision.
On social media, many Pakistanis reacted to the court’s decision with a mixture of sarcasm and dismay.
Valentine’s Day has a mixed following in Pakistan. In big cities, restaurants, delivery services and bakeries often come up with Valentine’s Day promotions, but there are also “Haya Day” campaigns by conservative students which promote traditional Islamic modesty. Last year, President Mamnoon Hussain said that Pakistanis should avoid celebrating Valentine’s Day as it is a Western tradition that has nothing to do with Pakistan’s Muslim culture.
Valentine’s Day is a tradition that may have had its origins in an ancient Roman fertility festival and was subsequently adopted by the Catholic Church to commemorate one or more Christian martyrs named Valentine, who were persecuted in the Roman Empire. It is now a day for celebrating love and romance in many parts of the world.