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Lovers arrested in Malaysia's anti-Valentine raid

26 unmarried couples may face six-months imprisonment

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Malaysian police arrested 26 unmarried couples, who were having sex in hotel rooms on Sunday, in an operation that aimed at limiting illegal premarital sex in the conservative country, security sources said. Sex outside marriage is prohibited by the Islamic religion.

State authorities carry out similar raids every year on Valentine's Day in this Muslim-majority country, to inspect such illegal acts.

A police source said that the arrested couples would probably have to pay fines estimated at 1,000 ringgit ($280) and up to six month in prison for each.

Malaysia has a two-track legal system, with the civil courts operating alongside state-based Sharia courts in which only Muslims can be tried for religious offences.

Last month, a Malaysian religious court sentenced a man and a woman to six strokes of the cane for drinking alcohol, in a rare decision in the multicultural nation.

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, where more than 60 percent of the population of 27 million are Muslim Malays who practice a conservative version of the faith.

About 25 percent of the population is ethnic Chinese and eight percent is ethnic Indian, most of whom are Hindus.