Pakistan university will celebrate “Sisters’ Day” on February 14 instead of Valentine’s Day in an effort to promote “Islamic traditions,” rejecting what is widely seen as a Western import in the Muslim-majority country.
The University of Agriculture in Faisalabad (UAF), in central Punjab province, wants to promote “eastern culture and Islamic traditions among the youth” in view of the traditional day for displaying love and affection as celebrated elsewhere in the world.
“In our culture, women are more empowered and earn their due respect as sisters, mothers, daughters and wives,” UAF vice chancellor Zafar Iqbal is quoted as saying on the institution’s website.
“We were forgetting our culture, and Western culture was taking root in our society,” he continued.
“UAF was mulling a plan to distribute scarves, shawls and gowns printed with the UAF insignia among female students” on February 14.
Valentine’s Day is increasingly popular among younger Pakistanis, with many taking up the custom of giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts to mark the occasion.
But the country remains a deeply traditional Muslim society where women struggle for their individual rights, and many disapprove of any efforts to allow Western culture to impinge on the country’s perceived Islamic national identity.
In 2017, the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day in public places, and prohibited all electronic and print media from covering any festivities or mentioning of the occasion.