Indonesian Muslim school students protest Valentine’s Day

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 4:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 4:01am

Indonesian Muslim school students on Monday staged a protest against Valentine’s Day, denouncing what they said was a Western celebration that encourages casual sex.

While teenagers in many countries treat the day as an occasion to declare their love for classmates, in the Indonesian city of Surabaya it was a different story as students from one school staged the noisy demonstration. “Say no to Valentine!” chanted the students, who were aged between 13 and 15 and included many girls wearing headscarves.

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It was the latest expression of anger at Valentine’s Day in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, where Islamic clerics and some pious Muslims typically use the occasion to target what they see as Western decadence.

“This protest was organised as we have seen on television that Valentine’s Day tends to be associated with free sex,” said Pandu Satria, organiser of the demonstration that was attended by scores of students. “That makes us afraid.”

Ida Indahwati Waliulu, headmaster of the school which is run by an Islamic organisation, added: “There is a certain pride about this positive action carried out by the students.”

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As well as the demonstration, several cities across the country banned people from celebrating the occasion.

In neighbouring Malaysia, which is also a muslim-majority country, a group called The National Muslim Youth Association urged females to avoid using emoticons and an excessive amount of fragrance in a pre-Valentine’s Day message.

The group also set out guidelines about how people could reject the annual celebration of romance by making anti-Valentine posters and not wearing Valentine-themed outfits.

In 2015 the country’s top Islamic clerical body threatened to issue a fatwa against the sale of condoms following reports they were being sold together with chocolate to mark Valentine’s Day.

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Despite the objections from some, many Indonesians celebrate the occasion, particularly in major cities where cards and chocolates to mark it are widely available.

Over in Pakistan, a judge banned Valentine’s Day celebrations in the country’s capital, saying they are against Islamic teachings.

Court official Niaz Saleh says the judge ruled Monday on a petition seeking to ban public celebrations in Islamabad. He says the order has been sent to Pakistan’s media regulator to ensure a blackout on any Valentine’s Day promotions in print or electronic media. A spokesman for the regulator could not immediately be reached for comment.