Indonesian officials and scholars have banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day because they believe it contravenes Islamic teachings.
In Banda Aceh, the capital of the province of Aceh, thousands of high school students held protests rejecting the celebration of Valentine’s Day.
The mayor, Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, and officials joined Saturday’s rallies which were held in four locations in the city.
“The Valentine’s Day celebration has become a culture,” Illiza said.
The mayor added that the rallies were aimed at making young people aware that Valentine’s Day is not part of Islamic culture.
St Valentine’s Day is thought to have roots in a pagan fertility festival in ancient Rome, was further cemented by the death of a Christian martyr called St Valentine, with the idea coming to public consciousness through British literary giants Chaucer and Shakespeare.
The bans were imposed in many Indonesian cities. A similar rally by junior high school students was held in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city.
In Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province, a noted Muslim youth group called “Pemuda Muslimin Indonesia” told Muslims in the province to stay away from the celebration.
The influential Indonesian Council of Clerics has repeatedly declared the 14 February celebration as an observance stemming from another faith, saying that celebrating it would be the same as promoting faiths other than Islam.
Indonesia is the largest Muslim majority country in the world with nearly 90 percent of its 265 million population being Muslim.