A Pakistani court Monday banned public celebrations of Valentine's Day in the capital Islamabad, the latest attempt by authorities to outlaw a holiday seen by many in the traditional Muslim society as vulgar and Western.
The Islamabad high court issued the order after a petitioner declared love was being used as a “cover” to spread “immorality, nudity and indecency... which is against our rich traditions and values”.
The ruling, seen by AFP and greeted with approval by Islamist parties, also called for the electronic and print media to stop promoting Valentine's Day.
Some restaurants in Islamabad continued to send out text messages advertising Valentine's Day promotions even after the ban was announced.
However, preparations appeared muted in more conservative areas such as Peshawar, capital of northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, where only a handful of shops were selling Valentine's Day-themed goods.
The annual occasion is increasingly popular among young Pakistanis, many of whom seize the chance to celebrate romance by giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts.
But the country remains deeply conservative, and many disapprove of the holiday as an indecent Western import.
Last year, Pakistan president Mamnoon Hussain had urged the nation to refrain from celebrating Valentine's Day, saying it had no place in the Muslim-majority nation. Other officials blasted it as “vulgar and indecent”.
In Indonesia, Muslim school students staged a protest against Valentine's Day on Monday, 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 love for their classmates, in the Indonesian city of Surabaya it was a different story as students from one school held a noisy demonstration.
"Say no to Valentine!" chanted the students, who were aged between 13 and 15 and included many girls wearing headscarves.
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.