Valentine’s Day wasn’t getting much love in the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation on Thursday as the Indonesian authorities urged amorous couples to call it quits and carried out raids to quash any wayward gift-giving. About 100 students in the second-biggest city, Surabaya, demonstrated against the chocolates-and-flowers celebration, saying that it promoted Western decadence and casual sex.
“Say no to Valentine’s now!” chanted the high schoolers, most of them teenaged girls in hijab head coverings. Some held placards with phrases like “Sorry Valentine’s Day, I am Muslim”.
School principal Arief Himawan warned that the couples giving each other chocolates or other treats can quickly lead to sin. We want to remind our young generation not to be caught up in Western culture.
Authorities conducted raids in Surabaya, and Makassar city on Sulawesi island to snuff out any celebrations. In conservative Aceh province, the only place in Indonesia that imposes Islamic law, a fresh Valentine’s prohibition was issued, citing religious norms.
People are publicly whipped in the region for a wide range of offenses including selling alcohol and gay sex and similar bans have been ordered in previous years. While Valentine’s was off the cards for some, many Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam and celebrate the day with chocolates and flowers for their loved ones.