Pakistanis should ignore Valentine’s Day, president urges

Image: Teddy bears and heart shaped cushions are displayed for sale along a roadside ahead of Valentine’s Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 12, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – President Mamnoon Hussain has urged Pakistanis not to observe Valentine’s Day, the romantic holiday that hardline Muslim clerics want banned but officials in the capital say they cannot suppress.

The president criticized Valentine’s Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan.

Despite its roots as a Christian holiday, Valentine’s Day has gained popularity among Pakistanis, with flower vendors reporting booming sales this year, as in recent years.

“Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it’should be avoided,” Hussain said at a ceremony celebrating a nationalist leader.

Local media reported earlier in the week that Islamabad would ban celebrations on Valentine’s celebrations as an “insult to Islam”, but city officials later said such a rule would be unenforceable.

The northwestern city of Peshawar, near the Afghan border, has banned Valentine’s Day celebrations, local media said.

(Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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