Have you ever felt like you needed to earn a holiday? Christmas is sort of that way – supposedly if you’ve been naughty, then you can’t receive any gifts. Let’s face it though; even the wayward get to have a little eggnog! So what then for a day that celebrates loving one another?
One Indonesian sheikh has said that Valentine’s Day is forbidden. Muslim Malaysians in the predominantly Muslim South-East Asian country have lived under such a ban or fatwa since 2005. And now, some extreme elements of the Malay government want to put a stop to the promotion of the day among non-Muslims, who constitute about 40 percent of the country’s more than 28 million. The moral prerogatives scoring this anti-V-Day campaign take the line that this beloved hallmark occasion promotes premarital sex and promiscuity. They would rather "save youngsters from falling into the Valentine’s Day trap that promotes immoral activities.”
Salafists in Egypts have asked to cancel Valentines Day this year, as the newly-awakened Egypt risks falling deeper into the shadow of the aescetic side of Islam, where the specter of the Islamist brigade keeps frivolity and non-Islamic events (especially those that might encourage licentious activity) strictly off the menu. So where is the love?
It goes without saying that many moderate-minded regular praticing Muslims who would indulge in marking Mother's Day and Father's Day (other big commercial successes) would view Valentines Day no differently and would see no need to abstain. Indeed, among some Muslim or Arab couples, Valentines Days takes on a duty-binding importance.
Arabs in 2012 need all the love they can get
Do Arabs under revolution not deserve a break? Maybe a cuddle and a let up from hostility. Better than that, they have earnt some love at a time when there has been seemingly no love lost between Arab leaders and people. (As for between Israel and Arabs, well simply put, love for a long time has been the missing ingredient between this oil and water pairing.)
Maybe some in the region are wondering after all the conflict and heart-break, if their Valentines or love should at least be conditional this year.
Arab Spring: No love lost this Valentine's Day
Reflection on the give and take of love during the Arab Spring can be souring. Deluded Arab leaders were convinced that they were doing it all for love of their people (Gaddafi, Assad and Ben Ali have all claimed to be 'on side' with the people and even revolutions at various points. Gaddafi argued to the last breath that all his people 'loved' him.) At the height of blood-letting today in Homs, Bashar Al Assad will tell you that 'he gives good love' to his people, if you asked him. It doesn’t help that days before ‘Fluffy Hearts and Chocolate’ Day, the world loses one of the best love crooners of all time in Whitney Houston. Her legacy of hits has given us playlists of love songs. Which ones would folks be singing as they reflect on whether their actions merit a box of chocolates?
It’s been an exciting but rough couple of years for the Middle Easterners. So, instead of making it conditional or illegal this year, let’s make Valentine’s Day mandatory! It seems everyone in this region could use a hug and a rose; a kiss and a chocolate; a smile and a fuzzy bear. Be happy and feel loved, at least for one moment in time.
Indulge with Al Bawaba's in a light-hearted Valentine's Day special - infused with some Whitney Houston tribute love - as we try to return some love to the Middle East, working with what material (Arab dictator's 'n' all) the region can offer by reading here.
By Brett Weer and staff
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