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Archive for February 15th, 2013

Valentine — our first global saint?

Friday, February 15th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron -- a mixed reception for St Valentine and his Day ]
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Above: Pakistan, 2103. Below: Saudi Arabia, 2013

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Blog-friend Omar Ali has a piece up at the Brown Pundits blog, How easy is it to be accused of blasphemy in Pakistan? — which included the upper of the two images above, along with this comment and more…

The website of the Express Tribune (liberal by Pakistani standards) published a picture. its a modestly dressed woman posing next to an anti-valentine day billboard with a sign that says “let love be”. (It doesnt seem to be on the tribune site anymore… I am told it was there but has been removed … I just thought of taking THIS blog post off the net too, but since PKKH has their original post up, I doubt if we are materially adding to any possible legal case that may be concocted to bully the people involved).

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It took only a few minutes for Paknationalists to notice and become outraged. See details here.

Of course no blasphemy was intended or committed. But the poor girls, and the editors and publishers of the Tribune, could still be in trouble.

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I have noted the distaste some festivals which seem innocuous enough to many of us can stir in some others, and Valentine’s Day among them, mentioning both Hindu and Muslim reactions to the feast of hearts, roses, restaurants and beds along with Halloween in “Trick or Shirk” Indeed. Today, I’d like to raise the possibility that Valentine is may be the first saint of globalization, if Santa Claus hasn’t already won that honor — a saint, that is, of commerce, which tends to obliterate all boundaries of faith and nation.

Here’s an interesting indicator… This year, the Saudi Gazette reports Saudi religious police deny intent to close flower shops (see the lower image above):

The head of Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) denied on Tuesday plans to close shops selling flowers during Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.

Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh told the Saudi daily newspaper Al-Jazirah: “This is not our specialty. It is the specialty of other parties. We reject what violates the book (Qur’an) and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s teaching) and Saudi Arabia’s regulations.”

“We deal with issues on a case by case basis, and if there is a violation our role is to liaise with concerned government parties,” he added.

Al-Sheikh’s statements followed widely-circulated reports that the commission is planning to close all shops selling flowers on Valentine’s Day.

Previously, the commission banned the sale of red roses ahead of Valentine’s Day, forcing couples to think of new ways to show their love.

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For a quick peek at St Valentine’s skull — and the heart of St Lawrence for that matter, see my post Of dust and breath, which dealt with their respective show-cased relics.

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