World ‘You Can’t Ban Love’: Pakistanis Defy a Valentine’s Day Prohibition

19:09  14 february  2018
19:09  14 february  2018 Source:   The New York Times

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“ You can ban a day , but you can ’ t stop people from being together or from falling in love ,” he said, breaking into a laugh. “That might work better in Pakistan ,” she said. A third friend, wearing a bright red hoodie, disagreed: “No. We need a Valentine ’ s Day revolution here.

Shahid and many other Pakistanis are outraged over a court's ban on celebrating Valentine ' s Day Love local in Cape Breton this Valentine ' s Day .

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — When a friend told Hussain Liaquat that police officers in the Pakistani capital might be checking cars for anything red or heart-shaped the night before Valentine’s Day, he decided to get creative.

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Shahid and many other Pakistanis are outraged over a court's ban on celebrating Valentine ' s Day Barcelona's version of Valentine ' s Day celebrates love , literature. This prohibition is upheld by the religious authority.

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs. Pakistanis defy Valentine ' s Day ban with hearts In a society where adultery is punishable by death and public displays of love are forbidden, the young had increasingly used Valentine ' s Day as a form

Mr. Liaquat, 22, went to the giant Saeed Book Bank in Islamabad and found a poster from “House of Cards,” his girlfriend’s favorite television show. Then he went in search of the perfect romance novel.

“I decided not to buy her balloons and chocolates, to avoid police confiscating them,” the mathematics student said, leafing through a copy of Erich Segal’s “Love Story.”

“Someone told me this is like the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ of the 20th century,” he said. “I think I’ll get it.”

Like many other couples in this city of two million, Mr. Liaquat and his girlfriend celebrated Valentine’s Day below the radar. Last year, the Islamabad High Court banned Valentine’s celebrations across Pakistan, deeming them “against the teachings of Islam” and a sign of growing Western influence.

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Champagne bottles are popping and rose petals are fluttering as couples around the world -- from the United States to Hong Kong to South Africa -- observe Valentine ’ s Day once again. But not everyone is celebrating. In some places, national politics and government regulations stand in the way of romance.

Like Valentine ' s Day , all Christian and even most Muslim feasts are banned in the kingdom, the birthplace of Islam, because they're Every heart, every rose and every item that's red or that suggests love and romance descends underground, to the black market, where its price triples and quadruples.

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So, for the second year in a row, red “I Love You” balloons and heart-shape boxes of chocolates were essentially contraband. Police officers in Islamabad searched through streets and shops in recent days looking for Valentine’s Day sales. A concert by Atif Aslam, a popular heartthrob singer, that had been scheduled for Wednesday was postponed.

Some restaurant managers reported receiving calls from unknown numbers asking whether boys and girls had exchanged gifts on their premises, and whether they knew of other establishments that might be observing the holiday. A number of florists and gift shops in Islamabad complained that they had lost significant business as customers stayed away.

But there were also many in Islamabad who didn’t mind taking a risk for love — or to make some money — in defiance of the ban.

In the affluent neighborhood F-7, where Obaid Malik, a young businessman, was parked outside a strip of flower shops, sellers elbowed one another to show him the long-stemmed roses he had asked for. Before the ban, the street had typically been jammed the night before Valentine’s Day, but now the shops stood quiet and sellers seemed more desperate than usual to make a sale.

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Shahid and many other Pakistanis are outraged over a court's ban on celebrating Valentine ' s Day because it is considered 'unIslamic.' They vowed to press forward with hearts, flowers and love .

Pakistanis defy Valentine ' s Day ban with hearts, flowers and love . Usman Shahid didn’ t want to break his wife’s heart by not celebrating Valentine ’ s Day with her, so he decided to break the law instead.

“What does Valentine’s Day have to do with the government? Why are they bothering people?” Mr. Malik said as the florists showed him different types of roses. Three defiantly red helium balloons hovered in the back of his car.

“Three balloons because, you know, ‘I love you’ is three words,” he said.

Mr. Malik said that he would not take his wife out for Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner this year, but that he planned to surprise her by cooking her breakfast.

“People are still going to go out and do their thing and have fun — maybe just in different ways,” he said. “You can’t ban love.”

Another customer, Shakeel Khan, a banker who was buying white lilies for his mother, said he had taken his fiancée out for a Valentine’s Day dinner over the weekend.

“I had heard of the ban and didn’t know what to expect, so we thought, let’s just get it out of the way,” Mr. Khan said. He stood in front of a flower shop filled with white roses, multicolor gladioli and purple chrysanthemums — but there wasn’t a red rose in sight.

The shop’s owner, Muhammad Imran, said the police had warned him not to sell red flowers on Valentine’s Day. So the red roses, he said, were hidden in the back of the shop, where he would lead loyal customers who asked for them.

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Pakistani men protest against Valentine ' s Day celebrations in Karachi on Feb. 12, 2017. Sorry, love birds: If you live in Pakistan , your Valentine ’ s Day plans just got squelched. The Islamabad High Court in Pakistan ’s capital issued an order that bans celebration of the holiday across the country

Pakistanis defy Valentine ' s Day ban with hearts, flowers and love . Usman Shahid didn’ t want to break his wife’s heart by not celebrating Valentine ’ s Day with her, so he decided to break the law instead.

“My workers have also been calling customers to let them know that home delivery is available this year for the first time,” Mr. Imran said, asking that the location of his shop not be disclosed. “Delivery is just safer,” he said with a shrug.

Other businesses found ways to mark Valentine’s Day, setting aside the usual decorative hearts, red ribbons and glitter. Haroon’s, one of the most popular gift shops in the capital, decorated its facade with fuchsia-colored stars.

Waiters at the Second Cup cafe said management had decided not to sell any specialty cakes this year — except for one. In the display window, round and rectangular cakes surrounded a lone, tiny, heart-shape chocolate one. The icing read, “Molten Love.”

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At the Baramda cafe, there was nothing to suggest Valentine’s Day, but there were tiny hearts drawn next to the word “specials” on a small white board. The manager, Tariq Sohail, glanced at a table on the pavement outside, where a young man and a woman sat smoking and laughing.

“You can ban a day, but you can’t stop people from being together or from falling in love,” he said, breaking into a laugh.

Some restaurants decided online promotions would be safest. “We’ve got a 15 percent discount today, but we only advertised it on Facebook and Instagram,” said a waiter at Nocciola Chocolaterie.

Similarly, a few customers said they had opted for “virtual dates” to avoid possible harassment by the authorities at restaurants.

“My girlfriend can’t get out tonight, so I’ll be Skyping with her,” a university student said over coffee at the upscale Kohsar Market. His friend, a curly-haired young woman, suggested changing Valentine’s Day to Friend’s Day.

“That might work better in Pakistan,” she said. A third friend, wearing a bright red hoodie, disagreed: “No. We need a Valentine’s Day revolution here. That’s what we need.”

In another part of town, police officers shooed away a man who had set up a stall to sell single roses. “We are just doing our job,” one said when asked why they had intervened.

Balloon sellers were also on the lookout for the police. Most had chosen not to sell heart-shape or red balloons, instead opting for stars, circles and bird- and animal-shape ones.

But one vendor, Muhammad Akhar, was boldly selling red balloons that read “You Are Mine.”

“If the people who are coming to buy them are not scared,” he said, “then why should I be?”

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