Valentine’s Day Expected to Be Bigger Than Ever in Iran, Despite Police Warning

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Shops are prohibited from displaying any signs or selling any products associated with the “decadent Western cultural phenomenon known as Valentine’s Day,” Iran’s police force announced on February 10.

“Young men and women should not gather in shops and exchange gifts such as dolls, flowers and chocolate… or else the individuals involved as well as the shop owner will face consequences,” the police directive warned.

Every year as February 14th approaches, Iran’s police force employs various methods to try to dissuade people and businesses from celebrating the internationally-recognized day for lovers. Nevertheless, reports indicate that this year Valentine’s Day will be more widely celebrated in Iran than ever, even among young people in the religious city of Qom.

Four years ago, the Customs Organization banned the import of Valentine’s Day products in order to counter “plans by aggressive capitalists to weaken the foundation of the family in Iran’s Islamic society.” In fact, Iranian officials often refer to the holiday as a Western conspiracy, a belief that is in line with supreme leader Khamenei’s insistence on an Islamic lifestyle free of Western influences.

In a speech on November 25, 2015, Khamenei warned of what he called “dangerous trends” and “infiltrating networks” created by the West with “money and sexual attractions” designed to hollow the country of its native ideals and lifestyle and replace them with Western culture. Police action against Valentine’s Day fits well with the Khamenei’s desire to distance Iranians from what he sees as evil foreign influences.

“The West is trying to impose its trademark on every aspect of our life, from food to architecture and furniture. It wants to replace our beliefs with free masonry, and our rituals with Christmas and Valentine’s Day and our architecture with the White House,” Mohammad Eshaghi, a senior planning official at the Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution said on August 9, 2015.

Also in a by Fars New Agency, which is affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Valentine’s Day was described as plot “to prevent marriage and promote dating.”

There was a previous attempt to encourage Iranians to celebrate the wedding day of Imam Ali, the first Shia saint, and Fatimah, Prophet Mohammad’s daughter, on the same day as Valentine’s, but it never captured the general public’s imagination.

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