Pakistan’s Islamabad High Court has prohibited St Valentine’s Day celebrations in public spaces and government offices across the country “with immediate effect,” reports Dawn.
Print and electronic media have also been warned to stop Valentine’s Day promotions. The orders came after a petition was submitted by Abdul Waheed, a member of the public, who maintained that the celebration is “against Islamic teachings”.
Last year Pakistan’s president, Mamnoon Hussain, denounced St Valentine’s Day, saying that it is a Western tradition that conflics with Muslim culture. The day has only become widely marked in Pakistan in recent years.
The original Valentine was a martyred Christian priest in 3rd Century Rome who, it is believed, defied Emperor Claudius II by conducting illegal wedding ceremonies. (Claudius said married men made poor soldiers, so decreed that marriages of younger citizens would be outlawed.) Believing that it was part of God’s purpose for the world, Valentine continued to conduct marriages of Christians in secret, for which he was eventually jailed and beheaded.
Tradition says Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s (some say judge’s) daughter after curing her blindness by prayer. Before his death he is said to have signed a note to her, which read “from your Valentine”.
Christians are about 2-3% of the population of Pakistan, which is fourth on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians are most under pressure for their faith.