Riyadh, 13 Feb. (AKI) – Defying the official ban of the kingdom’s religious authorities, young Saudis have been buying up the traditional red roses for Wednesday’s Saint Valentine’s day, according to Saudi daily al-Watan. Florists have indicated that because of huge demand the price of red roses leapt in the space of a few days from five to 12 rials (1.30 to 3.20 US dollars). The paper reported on Monday it was almost impossible to find red roses in cities across the kingdom. The religious police have organised special anti-Valentine patrols to prevent Saudi youth celebrating what they consider a product of dissolute Western customs.
In recent years, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdelaziz al-Sheik, intervened with a fatwa or religious edict banning the celebration of the event, describing Saint Valentine’s Day as “the feast of the pagans” and writing that “any Muslim who believes in Allah and in the Day of Judgement cannot celebrate this event.”
Every year about this time, the Western media runs stories about how the Saudis ban Valentine’s Day celebration. Every year about this time, Saudi citizens ignore the ban, recognizing that the day, even if it did start as the celebration of a Christian saint, is now much more than that. Perhaps we can start to do what we recommend to others: ‘Judge people by what they do, not by what they say.’
[UPDATE: BBC carries this report on Hindus trying to quash the celebration of the holiday as well: Hindu groups in Valentine warning. It appears that culture clashes are universal, though the targets may differ somewhat.]