Asia-Pacific

Malaysia warns Muslims of Valentine's Day 'trap'

Women shout slogans for the anti-Valentine's Day Campaign, near Kuala Lumpur on 11 February 2011
Muslims make up nearly two-thirds of Malaysia's 28 million population

Malaysia has stepped up a campaign to stop Muslims celebrating Valentine's Day - labelling it a "trap" that could encourage immoral behaviour.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Monday's celebration of romantic love was "not suitable" for Muslims.

Several Malaysian states are planning to carry out checks on hotels to stop young couples having premarital sex.

The anti-Valentine's Day campaign by the country's Islamic authorities goes back to a fatwa issued in 2005.

Leaflets have been distributed to Muslim university students urging them to avoid Monday's celebration.

The government-run Department of Islamic Development, which handles religious policies, has launched a publicity campaign called "Mind the Valentine's Day Trap".

Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the department's chief, told state media: "In reality, as well as historically, the celebration of Valentine's Day is synonymous with vice activities.

"Islam would reject anything, even from the Eastern culture, if it contravenes the Islamic teachings."

He said Islam had never spurned positive Western celebrations, noting that it had embraced Mother's and Father's Day.

But not all Malaysian Muslims agree with the campaign, with some saying Valentine's Day is harmless.

Other faiths are not affected by the boycott in a country where Muslims make up nearly two-thirds of the 28 million population.

More on this story

Around the BBC