Love is in the air as the much awaited Valentine's Day is fast approaching. While no powerful force on earth can stop lovers from expressing their feelings and indeed being in love, it will be important to note that whether or not you will be able to freely celebrate the day would seriously depend on which part of the world you are in.
If you didn't know this, there are some places - yes in this very same world - where celebrating the most famous day of lovers is a crime. You heard it right! 'Crime' is the word to underline - a crime, just as murdering someone, robbing a bank or doing drugs! Or even if it were not really considered a 'crime', it would be something like a crime, wherein the day is considered 'morally' wrong.
So just in case you were planning to travel during the upcoming Valentine's Day, do not make the mistake of choosing the following places:
In 2011, the Iranian regime made Valentine's Day 'illegal'.
"Symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses, and any activities promoting this day are banned," the state media announced that year in a statement.
There you are! Not even "half-hearts" are allowed in this country. Do you mean there are no hearts in the people of this country?
"Authorities will take legal action against those who ignore the ban," The state media said. It is a country where 70 percent of the population is said to be under 30 and the V-day's popularity is on the rise - but all in vain.
Sorry lovers! V-day is a total no-no even in Malaysia where Muslims account for over 60 percent of the population. The people belonging to this religion are prohibited from celebrating the day. You won't believe this, but in 2012 police busted couples and arrested for trying to get a little - just a little, you know - closer. They said the couples were being arrested for 'Close proximity'.
It was a complicated, official, sophisticated, authoritarian language but perhaps the best we can understand by that 'close proximity' claim is that - maybe they were holding their hands? Or kissing at the most?
This one is not too surprising right? This is a country, where being a gay is also a crime. But thank god, celebrating the V-day is not restricted everywhere in Russia.
Authorities in Belgorod province, in 2011, urged schools and other state institution to refrain from celebrations marking the heart-shaped holiday. It was apparently seen by some conservative Russians as an unhealthy foreign phenomenon that has infiltrated into their territory.
4. Saudi Arabia
This is another country where conservative officials impose the ban on the holiday - rather very strictly. Think of everything red, and they are not allowed to be sold in this reclusive nation.
"As Muslims, we shouldn't celebrate a non-Muslim celebration, especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women, " Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a scholar in Islamic studies, told the Saudi Gazette in 2008. And this one quote says it all.
Islamic authorities, clerics and residents in Indonesia - considered to be the world's most populous Muslim country -have banned the celebrations of the V-Day. The only good news is that the Indonesian youth are said to defy the ban and celebrate the holiday anyway.