It’s that time again: Time for the Muslim religious police to crush Saudi lovers’ fervor for that cursed threat from the West — Valentine’s Day.
Fight Sharia! Send Pajamagrams and Vermont Teddy Bears.
As Feb. 14 approaches, the police begin inspecting gift shops for items that are red or are intended as gifts to mark the holiday — a celebration of St. Valentine, a 3rd century Christian martyr — which is banned in Saudi Arabia. Such items are legal at other times of the year, but as Valentine’s Day nears they become contraband.
At best, shops caught selling Valentine’s gifts are ordered to get rid of them. Some salesmen have been detained for days.
The Valentine’s Day prohibition is in line with the ascetic Wahhabi school of Islam that the kingdom follows. Marking Christian holidays is banned in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and a country where non-Muslims are banned from openly practicing their religion.
Celebrating any holidays but the two most important for Muslims — Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr_ is taboo because they are considered “religious innovations” that Islam does not sanction. Even birthdays and Mother’s Day are frowned on by the religious establishment.
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.
Nevertheless, Valentine’s Day quietly creeps into the capital, Riyadh: While gift stores don’t trumpet their Valentine’s wares, they acquire a deep red hue as shelves are stocked with artificial flowers, heart-shaped frames and other knickknacks.
Previous: V’day 2008…Saudi men arrested for flirting
V’day 2007…Valentine’s Day: Hearts and darts
V’day 2006…Next, they came for Valentine’s Day