National

Valentine's celebrations
banned in Bukittinggi

The Bukittinggi municipal administration has banned residents from celebrating Valentine's Day, on Thursday, on the grounds the occasion is not in line with Minangkabau traditions or Islam.

"The Valentine's Day celebration is not our culture as it usually relates closely to immoral acts where, during the celebration, young couples tend to hug and even kiss each other. This is an immoral act, right?" Bukittinggi Deputy Mayor Ismet Amzis told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

A similar prohibition was implemented by the administration on cafes, restaurants, hotels and other tourist sites planning to hold Valentine's Day celebrations.

The administration said it would enforce existing regional regulations on "immoral act eradication" and take companies that celebrated the day to court.

A number of permits already issued for Valentine's Day activities have also been revoked.

Bukittinggi Mayor Djufri told a press conference earlier that his administration would shut down a number of tourist sites known to attract visitor's on Valentine's Day, including Jam Gadang, and some cafes.

Djufri urged parents in Bukittinggi not to let their sons and daughters go out Thursday night.

In order to replace Valentine Day's parties, the Bukittinggi administration urged schools to drive their students to mosques or prayer rooms Thursday night to hear religious sermons "for the sake of improving their morality."

The suggestion was made in response to the circulation of pornographic photos depicting a young couple from a senior high school in the city.

The photos, taken on a mobile phone camera, have been widely circulated in Bukittinggi over the last three weeks.

The couple captured by the photos has been expelled from school.

Ismet said the municipality had assigned 100 public order officers to keep an eye on cafes, restaurants, hotels and other public places on Thursday.

The officers have been given authority to detain young couples found on the streets or at tourist sites.

Besides Valentine Day's, Ismet said, the Bukittinggi administration would also ban New Year's Eve celebrations at Jam Gadang next year.

"As a tourist city, many people visit Bukittinggi to celebrate New Year's at Jam Gadang, the city's tourist icon. New Year is the same as Valentine's Day... its celebrations are closely linked to immoral acts," Ismet said. "So let Bukittinggi be deserted by tourists, rather than be allowed to serve as a place for immoral acts."

Roni Valian, head of the Bukittinggi chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said he was still evaluating the mayor's ban and declined to comment further.

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