Valentine’s Day, named after a 3rd C. Christian saint, but now (almost) universally understood as a secular holiday on which people pay a little more attention to their personal relationships, bothers the bejeebers out of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. They cannot separate the fact that human relationships—particularly emotional relationships—are universal and perhaps worthy of acknowledging from the fact that there’s some Christian dude in the background, that the idea wasn’t invented in the Muslim world, and the whole thing about love and maybe even sex is not something we should be talking about in public. So, every year as February 14 roles along, the Commission does what it always does: try to suppress the observation of the holiday in Saudi Arabia. Cultural imperialism, inappropriate behavior, sentiments dangerous to religious purity… all reasons to shun St. Valentine. At least they’re not alone in this as the Hindutva elements in India share the outrage against the expanding globalization that shrinks our world.
So, for your annual edification and amusement, here’s this year’s story about the Haya’s efforts in getting upset over the trivial and people’s efforts to go around them. The story casts Saudi society into such good light that the Saudi-bashers can hardly wait for the opportunity to pick up their cudgels. Good job, Haya!
Red rose ‘price index’ shows Valentine’s spike
Sultan Altamimi & Omar Mohamed | Arab News
JEDDAH: The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice intensified its vigilance over flower, chocolate and gift shops to confiscate items related to Valentine’s Day, a perennial crackdown on a holiday perceived by many to be both Western and immoral.
Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, head of the commission’s branch in Makkah province, said the agency has instructions to eliminate any activities aimed at celebrating this event or sell products related to it.
“This is based on the teachings of Shariah. God ordained Muslims to celebrate their own festivals in place of un-Islamic ones,” he said. “So Muslims are not allowed to celebrate any festivals other than Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.”
Arab News toured a number of shops selling flowers, chocolates and assorted gifts. All but one of the stores avoided any hint in their displays of merchandise that Valetine’s Day is tomorrow.
But money talks even if most shopkeepers don’t: The price of red roses have gone up as much as 10 times the regular price, indicating a demand.
For an example of how this story goes out to global media, here’s Donna Abu-Nasr’s report for the Associated Press: Religious police break hearts in Saudi Arabia