JAKARTA Feb 14 Indonesian authorities in parts
of the Muslim-majority nation have confiscated condoms and
banned students from celebrating Valentine's Day, saying the
romantic tradition encourages casual sex and runs counter to
In the city of Makassar on Sulawesi island, police raided
minimarts and seized condoms that were readily available in most
parts of Indonesia, a secular country whose state ideology
enshrines religious diversity.
"These raids were done after we received reports from
residents that the minimarts were selling condoms in an
unregulated way, especially on Valentine's Day," Makassar police
official Jufri was quoted as saying in a media report.
He added employees of the minimarts were told not to sell
contraceptives to teenagers, the report said.
Indonesia's highest Islamic clerical council declared
Valentine's Day forbidden by Islamic law in 2012, saying it was
contradictory to Muslim culture and teachings.
But the vast majority of Indonesia's more than 220 million
Muslims follow a moderate form of Islam in a country with
sizeable Christian and Hindu minorities.
In Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, and other parts of the
country, Valentine's Day has grown in popularity with companies
looking to cash in by offering special discounts and promotions.
For example, national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia
is offering a 15 percent discount on air fares this
week and motor bike delivery services are promoting week-long
discounts to send flowers and chocolates to loved ones.
Rights groups have expressed concerns over the growing
influence of Islamist groups, who have targeted how people lead
their lives. A hardline group went around malls in East Java
late last year to check whether outlets had ordered Muslim staff
to wear Christmas apparel such as Santa hats.
In Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya, government
officials ordered schools to ban students from celebrating
Valentine's Day "in or outside of school" because it ran counter
to "cultural and social norms", according to a copy of the
letter on the city's official website.
A similar letter was also sent to public education agencies
and schools in West Java province, according to a statement on
the provincial government's website. West Java is the country's
most populous province.
West Java and other provinces, such as Aceh, which is the
only province in Indonesia to follow sharia law, have issued
similar bans on celebrating Valentine's Day in previous years.
Under Indonesia's decentralised system of government,
regional authorities are allowed to issue bylaws without
approval from the central government.
(Additional reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Writing by Ed Davies;
Editing by Randy Fabi)