Friday, February 13, 2009
sAy No To vAleNtInE's dAy
Saudi Religious Police Say No To Red & Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day is upon us. This ‘day of love’ is celebrated around the world on February 14th, not for its Christian religious roots, but because it’s a great way to let those you love - family, friends, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends - know how much you appreciate them. People traditionally exchange Valentine cards, flowers, chocolate, with the predominant color being red. But not in Saudi Arabia, where the ever - present, ever ready to rain on any parade religious police are on the look out for anything of that color, or anything else for that matter, that could potentially be given as a gift. Apparently they’re okay at any other time of the year, not just around February 14th.
Because Valentine’s Day is banned in Saudi Arabia.
Because it is viewed as a Christian religious holiday, and as we all know the oh - so tolerant Saudi Kingdom doesn’t allow anyone to publicly celebrate any religious holiday other than Islamic ones. The bizarre thing is no-one, anywhere, attributes any religious connotation to the holiday, these days. I actually forgot it was also called Saint Valentine’s Day because it’s a term that is rarely used, opting for the more secular term Valentine’s Day. Although it’s probably consumerism at its worst, it’s a relatively harmless holiday, and certainly not religious.
But, prior to the 14th, fatwas are issued, and people are warned:
“As Feb. 14 approaches, newspapers reprint a fatwa or religious edict issued by scholars a few years ago, declaring “eid al-hob,” Arabic for the feast of love, a “Christian, pagan feast” that Muslims should not celebrate. Teachers remind students they must not mark the festival, and girls are warned against wearing anything red. “
And stores begin to remove their red items, fearing the religious police might haul them off to jail, which apparently happens:
“My colleague spent a night in jail last year because of the color red,” said one salesman, who insisted on anonymity, fearing his colleague’s fate.
What people do is stock up prior to the 14th, like Abdul-Aziz al-Shammari who
“bought his girlfriend 10 red roses—one for each month he’s known her—five days before Valentine’s Day and stored the bouquet in his refrigerator to keep it fresh.”
“I don’t consider it a day venerating (St.) Valentine,” said al-Shammari, a 24-year-old student. “I see it as an international day of love.”
Indeed, it’s an international day of love, which our world desperately needs more of.
I guess the Saudi religious police don’t feel the same.