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Saudi Arabia Forbids Red for Valentine’s Day

The government of Saudi Arabia has banned the color red from all shops in order to prevent celebration of Valentine’s Day. The Saudi Gazette reports that the agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice warn shop owners every year to get rid of all their red items and displays, labeling the celebration of Valentine’s Day a sin.

Sheikh Khled Al-Dossari, an Islamic scholar, told the Saudi Gazette, “As Muslims, we shouldn’t celebrate a non-Muslim celebration especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women.”

The police force for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice also enforce dress codes and sex segregation, according to CNN. The Saudi government has been criticized internationally for its treatment of women. According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia is the only country that does not allow women to drive, and Saudi women are not permitted to be alone with men who are unrelated to them. Currently, the Associated Press reports that human rights groups are appealing to the Saudi king to pardon a women sentenced to death for “witchcraft.”

The UN News Centre reports that Yakin Erturk, UN human rights expert, said that human rights education and training in Saudi Arabia are necessary “to increase the understanding that all forms of violence against women are not only grave violations of fundamental rights but are also totally incompatible with the values cherished by the Muslim society.”

Banning the color red forces Saudis who want to celebrate the holiday to celebrate it in other ways. People, reports CNN, can still buy red roses, but the price has risen from $1.30 to $8. According to the BBC, many couples visit their more liberal neighboring countries to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Sources:

BBC News 02/11/08; The Saudi Gazette 02/12/08; CNN 02/12/08; Reuters 02/12/08; UN News Centre 02/13/08; Associated Press 02/14/08

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