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The trouble with Valentine's Day

Almer Mikhail

The Jakarta Post

Bandung  /  Fri, February 12, 2021  /  03:13 pm
The trouble with Valentine's Day

A group of Indonesian Muslim students take part in an anti-Valentine's Day rally in Surabaya, East Java, on Feb. 14, 2019. Anti-Valentine's Day rallies are not uncommon in Indonesia, where some conservative Islamic groups have denounced the day as un-Islamic, as well as promoting promiscuity, casual sex and consumption of alcohol. Other groups, meanwhile, claim that Valentine's Day is an influence of foreign culture. (AFP/Juni Kriswanto)

As Valentine’s Day approaches and pink decorations start to adorn corners of various spaces, we are once again reminded that the recurring Indonesian controversy of celebrating Valentine might be more familiar to us than the holiday itself. Early last year, the Bekasi Education Agency in West Java even sent out an official letter prohibiting Valentine’s Day celebrations “in and around the school areas”, encouraging teachers to keep an eye out for those trying to do so. A similar letter was sent by the same authorities from Bangka Belitung Islands to local schools, proclaiming that Valentine’s Day would “destroy the morale and character of students”. It’s curious that a day supposedly celebrating love is so divisive. Beyond the extremity of boycotting the occasion, however, are nuanced takes on how people truly feel about Valentine&rsq...