February 8, 2018 / 12:57 PM / 17 days ago

Love is in the air, but not on airwaves as Pakistan bans Valentine's Day

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan has banned events marking Valentine’s Day, and media coverage of them, for the second year in a row after a court ruled the holiday un-Islamic.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issued an advisory on Wednesday warning television and radio stations against any Valentine’s Day celebrations.

“No event shall be held at the official level or at any public place,” Pemra said.

The ban was introduced by Islamabad High Court last year after a petition by a citizen who said the Feb. 14 holiday was a cultural import from the West and “against the teachings of Islam”.

More than 60 percent of the population of the Muslim-majority nation is aged under 30. Many young people and commercial establishments have in recent years embraced Valentine’s Day hearts, flowers and chocolates.

A man inflates a heart shaped balloon ahead of Valentine's day in Peshawar, Pakistan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

But the country of 208 million has also seen a wave of ultra-religious political activism that has brought a backlash against such celebrations, which some call immoral.

Parties including the Taliban-linked Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam parties have in recent years held rallies to denounce the holiday.

A shopkeeper hangs newly arrived stock at his shop ahead of Valentine's day in Peshawar, Pakistan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

“We’re Muslims. Our religion forbids things like Valentine’s Day,” said Taufeeq Leghari, who was waiting for transport close to a florist’s stall in Rawalpindi, adjacent to Islamabad.

Flower seller Salman Mahmod took a different view.“I don’t know what danger these Islamists would face if I earn a little more from selling flowers and someone can have a chance to celebrate something,” he said.

Young people are not too afraid of the ban.

“I will celebrate,” said 21-year-old university student Abid Ansari in Islamabad. “This is my choice.”

Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Andrew Roche

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