Pakistan warns media against promoting Valentine’s Day

A Saudi man buys red roses for his wife at a flower shop in Riyadh on the eve of Valentine’s Day on February 13, 2009. — AFP pic
A Saudi man buys red roses for his wife at a flower shop in Riyadh on the eve of Valentine’s Day on February 13, 2009. — AFP pic

ISLAMABAD, Feb 8 — Pakistan’s media regulator has warned television channels and radio stations to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day after a court banned celebrations last year.

Valentine’s Day is increasingly popular among younger Pakistanis, with many taking up the custom of giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts to mark the occasion.

But the country remains a deeply traditional Muslim society and many disapprove of the holiday as a Western import.

Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain told a crowd of students in 2016 that the day had no place in the Muslim-majority nation and urged young people to focus on their studies instead.

Last year, the Islamabad High Court prohibited celebrations in public spaces and government offices across the country.

In a Twitter post yesterday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said last year’s ban was still in place and urged the media to “desist from promoting” the festivities.

Social media users were quick to respond, with some mocking the regulatory body.

“Hate preechers who incite violence in name of Islam are back on air. These hate monger are promoted & protected by the state of #Pakistan. But love speak and red heart balloon and flower vendors are a danger to this republic and Islam”, journalist Ahmad Noorani posted on Twitter.

Another user Adnan Sami commented on Facebook: “PEMRA directs media to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day, PEMRA never directs media from promoting hate monger Mullahs”.

Others lauded the decision, echoing the views of officials who have previously blasted the celebrations as “vulgar and indecent”.

Ali Danish said on Twitter: “Pemra did right. What sort of love do you want to spread via Valentine’s day? Us distancing ourselves from islam is haunting us big-time”. — AFP

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