War on ‘de­bauched’ Valen­tine’s Day

Nelson Mail - - WORLD -

IN­DONE­SIA: Hate Valen­tine’s Day? You could con­sider mov­ing to In­done­sia.

Sev­eral cities in the south­east Asian coun­try have banned the celebration, push­ing back against what crit­ics there call a Western tra­di­tion – rooted in Chris­tian­ity – that leads to be­hav­iour that con­tra­venes the mores of the Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity pop­u­la­tion.

Across the ar­chi­pel­ago on Wed­nes­day, raids and stern warn­ings from pro­vin­cial lead­ers re­placed can­dlelit din­ners, Hall­mark cards and heart-shaped can­dies. Po­lice of­fi­cers in Surabaya, In­done­sia’s sec­ond-largest city, de­tained about two dozen un­mar­ried cou­ples in a sweep in­tended to clamp down on Valen­tine’s Day cel­e­bra­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

In Mataram, the cap­i­tal of West Nusa Teng­gara prov­ince, po­lice were or­dered ‘‘to raid schools in the hunt for pas­sion­ate stu­dents un­able to keep their hands off each other’’, AFP re­ported.

In Makas­sar, the cap­i­tal of South Su­lawesi prov­ince, lead­ers main­tained the ban on the ro­man­tic hol­i­day, which they have im­posed for the past sev­eral years, ac­cord­ing to the Reuters news agency – but it was un­clear whether po­lice there had raided the city’s con­ve­nience stores and con­fis­cated con­doms, as they did last year, in an ef­fort to pre­vent lovers from en­gag­ing in ca­sual sex.

But in Aceh, the only In­done­sian prov­ince to im­pose sharia, the ban on Valen­tine’s Day was vis­i­ble for all to see.

Images of protest ral­lies from the prov­ince showed dozens of stu­dents hold­ing signs that ex­pressed sen­ti­ments such as ‘‘Save the Mus­lim from Valen­tine Day [be­cause] Valen­tine is not my day’’.

Oth­ers wore head­bands with a more di­rect mes­sage: ‘‘NO VALEN­TINE.’’

‘‘Valen­tine’s Day re­flects a cul­ture which is not in line with Aceh’s and Is­lamic law,’’ pro­vin­cial gov­er­nor Ir­wandi Yusuf said.

Valen­tine’s Day does have roots in Chris­tian­ity – Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia his­tory pro­fes­sor Lisa Bi­tel has charted the day’s puz­zling evo­lu­tion from cel­e­brat­ing ‘‘be­head­ing to be­troth­ing’’ in the name of the Catholic St Valen­tine – but In­done­sia’s bans come as the Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­try has in­creas­ingly re­jected Western cul­ture. In re­cent months, law­mak­ers there have moved to out­law gay and ex­tra­mar­i­tal sex, prompted by re­li­gious Mus­lim con­ser­va­tives. – Washington Post

PHOTO: AP

Mus­lim stu­dents hold a poster dur­ing a rally against Valen­tine’s Day in Banda Aceh, In­done­sia.

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