Valentine’s Day is being attacked in Pakistan as conservatives urge citizens to boycott the holiday. On Thursday, the battle between opposing views could be seen and heard.
The streets of Karachi, home to 18 million people, were strewn with posters featuring a black heart with the slogan “Say No To Valentine’s Day.” The signs also contained a message stating that the holiday tradition “reflects insensitivity, indignity and ignorance of Islam.”
According to Reuters, the posters were the work of a Jamaat-e-Islami affiliated group, a party that holds six of 342 legislative seats. Religious parties commonly employ street demonstrations as a way to “wield political influence.”
Syed Askari, a spokesperson for Jamaat-e-Islami, spoke of the reasons behind the attack on Valentine’s Day:
“Valentine’s is against Islamic culture. In our view, relationships are sacred. We have arranged marriages in this culture and people don’t get married for love. This is imposing Western values and cultures on an Islamic society. Look at the West – people love their dogs but throw their parents out when they get old. We don’t want to be like that.”
The Associated Press writes that not everyone in Pakistan opposes celebrating Valentine’s Day. In the northwestern city of Peshawar, people purchased gifts of stuffed animals, flowers, and heart-shaped balloons.
Taimur Hassan, a 29-year-old man working in the area, came to the holiday’s defense:
“Here in this part of Pakistan we are faced with bomb blasts, and we don’t have much opportunity to enjoy and celebrate so to me it is one of those few occasions to celebrate.”
Despite the opposing views and conservative attacks in Pakistan, Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated in some Muslim countries.