Pakistan capital bans Valentine’s Day

People shout slogans during a protest against Valentine's Day in Karachi, Pakistan, 12 February 2017Some religious groups view Valentine’s Day as promoting indecency

A court in Pakistan has banned public celebrations of Valentine’s Day in the capital, Islamabad, on the grounds that it is not part of Muslim culture.

The Islamabad High Court’s order prohibits all Valentine’s Day festivities in government offices and public spaces with immediate effect.

It also directs the media not to promote or cover Valentine’s events.

The orders were a response to a private petition which argued that Valentine’s Day was contrary to Islamic teaching.

According to the Dawn newspaper, the petition argued that the festival promoted immorality, nudity and indecency under the cover of spreading love.

Valentine’s Day has grown in popularity in many cities in Pakistan over the past decade, but some religious groups have denounced it as decadent.

The ban does not affect shops and restaurants, but it is the first time such a ruling has been imposed in the capital.

It comes a year after Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain said Valentine’s Day should be avoided, calling it a Western tradition that was not part of Pakistan’s culture.

There have been other localised measures. Last year local officials in Kohat, in north-west Pakistan, banned the sale of Valentine cards and goods, and Peshawar local council banned celebrations.

However, officials in both places later said the bans had been discarded or ignored for being unpopular.

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File photo: Heart shaped balloons on a street in Karachi, 14 February 2011Valentine’s Day is popular in big cities in Pakistan
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