Indonesian officials ban Valentine's Day celebrations

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Officials and clerics in the world's most populous Muslim nation have banned young Indonesian Muslims from celebrating Valentine's Day, arguing that the observance runs against Islamic teachings.

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In Banda Aceh, the capital of the devout Muslim province of Aceh, thousands of high school students held rallies rejecting the celebration of Valentine's Day.

Banda Aceh's mayor, Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal, and Shariah officials joined Saturday's rallies, held in four locations in the city's downtown area.

"The Valentine's Day celebration has become a culture," Illiza said. She added that the rallies were aimed at making young people aware that Valentine's Day is not part of Islamic culture.

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, Pemuda Muslimin Indonesia, called on Muslims in the province to stay away from the celebration.

The influential Indonesian Council of Clerics has repeatedly declared the Feb. 14 celebration as an observance stemming from another faith, saying that celebrating it would be the same as promoting faiths other than Islam.

Nearly 90 per cent of Indonesia's 265 million people are Muslims, with most practicing a moderate form of the faith.



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