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Malaysian Islamic watchdog: Valentine’s Day leads to moral decay

Despite the warnings, some members of the large Chinese minority community celebrated the day with a mass wedding

Published: Updated:

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) warned against celebrating Valentine’s Day, which they say encourages promiscuity, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Social ceremonies such as this are a stepping-stone towards greater social ills such as fraud, mental disorder caused by alcohol, abortion and baby-dumping, and other negative ills that can invite disaster and moral decay among youths,” an official sermon text distributed to mosques in the Muslim-majority country read.

More than 60 percent of Malaysia’s 28 million people are Muslim ethnic Malays, according to AFP.

Despite the warnings, some members of the large Chinese minority community celebrated the day with a mass wedding of 138 couples.

The lovers tied the knot at the Thean Hou temple in the capital Kuala Lumpur, releasing scores of red, heart-shaped, balloons after the ceremony.

Another 70 couples were to wed in the afternoon in individual ceremonies, an official at the Confucian temple said.

“We’re doing it specially for this year as only once in 19 years does Valentine’s Day coincide with Chap Goh Mei,” the official said.

JAKIM is the official watchdog of Muslim values. It regularly denounces Valentine’s Day as encouraging vice and promiscuity.

The authority has orchestrated anti-Valentine’s campaigns since 2011. It arrested nearly 100 Muslims in a crackdown on Valentine’s Day that year.

They were detained for “khalwat,” or “close proximity,” the crime of being alone with a member of the opposite sex other than one’s spouse or close relative.

Muslim conservatives in multi-faith Malaysia have become increasingly outspoken in recent years against perceived threats to Islamic values, challenging the country’s moderate Muslim image.

This week, Muslim authorities in the central state of Selangor distributed thousands of leaflets to youths warning against celebrating Valentine’s Day, according to local media.