Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 10 October 2015

Young warned off Valentine's Day

Published 14/02/2013

Muslim students hold posters during a protest against Valentine's Day in Surabaya, Indonesia (AP)
Muslim students hold posters during a protest against Valentine's Day in Surabaya, Indonesia (AP)

Young people in Indonesia are being told to ignore Valentine's Day because it is used as an excuse for forbidden sex.

The call came from officials and Muslim clerics. People in one province were also banned from buying gifts.

Many teenagers use the Western holiday as a time to express their love, which often leads to premarital sex, said Idris Abdul Somad, deputy mayor of Depok, a town on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta.

"I called on parents not to give their children any chance to celebrate Valentine's Day," he said. "Because they may be expressing love to their lovers more freely ... it could lead to forbidden sexual relations."

He called on residents to instead take their children to Islamic religious activities.

Religious leaders in Aceh, the only Indonesian province where Islamic law is imposed, pressed ahead with a new rule banning people from buying gifts for Valentine's Day. Celebrations were already banned in the province.

"It does not reflect love in accordance with Islamic teachings ... it's the same as promoting faiths other than Islam," said Teungku Faisal Ali, a prominent cleric of the Aceh Ulema Council.

Hundreds of students in Jambi, on Sumatra island, and Solo, in Central Java, held Valentine's Day protests. . Muslim clerics also urged youngsters to avoid celebrations in several cities in Indonesia, including Padang, Riau, Palembang and Banten.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is a secular nation of 240 million. It has a long history of religious tolerance, but a small extremist fringe has become more vocal - and violent - in recent years.

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