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Religious leaders in Bahrain have attacked the annual Valentine’s Day celebration, saying it has diluted Islamic principles and values.

Couples mark the occasion today by buying gifts expressing their love in a tradition that has been running for hundreds of years.

But some scholars described it as commercial nonsense that only serves to exploit people and should not be celebrated in Muslim countries.

“Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with Islamic values or social traditions and we should not adopt it simply because people in the West are doing it,” said one scholar, who did not want to be named for fear of a backlash from the community.

“We have our own feasts that we can mark and we do not have to be followers under the pretence that Valentine’s Day celebrates love. These celebrations leave a false image on the minds of youngsters and if children were brought up properly they would not get involved in all these things.

“We don’t want to stop anyone from celebrating love, but just inform them that Islam doesn’t allow love to be announced publicly.”

The scholar said Valentine’s Day had been forced down people’s throats. “Political or religious people are forbidden from speaking about this matter, as it has been commercialised to an extent that people go against those who ask them to stop celebrating it.”

The GDN reported yesterday that more than 50 tonnes of flowers had been flown into Bahrain as shops geared up for Valentine’s Day.

In one of the biggest local purchases a Kuwaiti romantic splashed out BD7,500 on 5,000 red roses to cover the couple’s entire apartment with petals.

Another scholar, who also declined to be named, said Valentine’s Day was a game played by “schemers” to exploit people. Valentine’s Day is not a celebration needed among Muslims.

“Muslims should not follow Western cultures in the name of modernisation without knowing that such culture is against Islamic teachings.

“On Valentine’s Day people cross the limit and it conflicts with Islamic principles and could cause moral erosion.

“We feel it is inappropriate for businesses to hold Valentine’s Day programmes for couples. It’s not just sending greetings and gifts but goes beyond the limit and even engages in promiscuous activities.” He said Valentine’s Day was not romance as it was not spontaneous and many people only made an effort because everyone else did.

“It’s annoying because people who are single end up feeling bad about it because everyone else who’s in a relationship is preparing for it.”

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