America’s “friend” in the War on Terror, Saudi Arabia, banned Valentine’s Day. The Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, otherwise known as the Religious Police, even banned the color red on February 14th because of its association with the holiday.
Buying, selling, wearing, or displaying anything red including red roses, clothes, wrapping paper, teddy bears and gift boxes were all illegal on this holiday for those in love. A few days prior to Valentine’s Day, flower shops and other stores were warned that they must remove all red items from their shelves. The Religious Police made it clear that they were going to monitor the stores on Valentine’s Day to ensure they were not shelving anything displaying the forbidden color. The holiday is illegal because it is considered “un-Islamic”. Government authorities let it be known that they were not going to tolerate any public displays of affection on February 14th. Though they claimed that Valentine’s Day promotes prohibited relations between unmarried men and women, public expressions of affection between married couples on that date was equally prohibited.
Ahmed Al-Omran, who runs the blog “Saudi Jeans” and is a student at King Saud University in Riyadh, was interviewed on the radio about the Valentine’s Day ban. A naïve NPR interviewer inquired if Saudis think the ban is a joke and laugh about it, as she seemed to. Not exactly. Ahmed explained that people take the ban very seriously because if they are caught wearing red or buying red roses they can be arrested and jailed. Stores that persist in shelving red products are raided and their items are seized.
All of this caused the blooming of an underground black market of red roses. Roses that normally cost five Saudi riyal ($1.30) per rose, sold for up to thirty riyal ($8.00) each, on Valentine’s Day. Some flower shops snuck their deliveries to customers in the dark of night, so as not to draw attention and arouse suspicion.
In Saudi Arabia, the Religious Police adhere to a radical strand of Sunni Islam known as Wahabbism, which dominates the Saudi culture and legal system. The country implements Sharia law (Koranic law), and women are forbidden to drive, get surgery or travel without permission from a male relative. Women and men who are unrelated are not allowed to socialize or mingle, and females must cover themselves head to toe in black hijabs (veils) so as not to arouse the sexual urges of Saudi men, who would be enticed by women revealing their hair or their ankles.
Other Muslim countries have followed suit. Though Valentine’s Day is not officially banned in Pakistan or Malaysia, Islamic extremists have condemned the holiday and are working on ways to repress recognition of it in the future. In Kuwait, two Members of Parliament who are on the Committee for the Struggle Against Negative Phenomena called for the Kuwait government to ban Valentine’s Day. They believe that the holiday promotes immorality, moral corruption, and contradicts Islam’s religious values and teachings.
And as usual, in a blazon display of ignorance, liberals on the web are siding with the Religious Police in their repressive policies. Here are a few quotes: “[R]epeating my mantra louder and more manically, don’t judge other cultures, don’t judge other cultures, don’t judge other cultures…”; “[T]he Saudi Government and the US government are trying to outdo each other. Maybe…we can borrow their secret police, and they can borrow our TSA [Transportation Security Agency]”; “I’m not sure why anyone would expect the Muslim world to embrace a Christian pseudo-holiday…..” Additionally, one fellow from Germany explained that nobody in Germany celebrates Valentine’s Day anyway, and therefore, he doesn’t view the ban as a cultural clash between Islam and the West.
Apparently, these folks are unable to distinguish the difference between whether or not Muslims should celebrate Valentine’s Day with whether or not they should be permitted by law to do so. Others cannot differentiate between rules to protect national security and rules to outlaw personal affections. The person who ranted tidings of moral equivalency conveniently ignored the fact that it was not necessarily Saudi citizens who wanted the ban, but their oppressive tyrannical dictatorship and the religious Mullahs. These are the not-so-fine-line distinctions that liberals never seem to grasp.
How sad, but not surprising, that the same ideology which promotes violent jihad, also works so hard to suppress the expression of love and joy. The next time Valentine’s Day rolls around, Americans should remember not only to appreciate their loved ones, but to celebrate the freedom they have been granted, which allows them to express their affections every day of the year.
Deborah Weiss, Esq. is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and a contributor to FrontpageMag.com.