Throughout the Middle East, it seems that love makes people defy both a state of war, as in Syria, or government bans, as in Saudi Arabia and Iran, to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
In Saudi, the morality police raid shops ahead of February 14, demanding the removal of ”love-related” items such as red roses and teddy bears. This has given rise to a black market where the price on red roses increase up to six-fold on this particular day, with florists delivering bouquets at night to avoid being caught, reports Foreign Policy.
Valentine’s is rejected by Saudi and Iranian officials and religious authorities who often describe it as a decadent, Christian import that promotes immoral relations between unmarried men and women.
However, Saba, an 18-year-old graphics student in Iran’s holy city of Mashhad, told AFP last year that for her, the day was not at all about adopting a Christian calendar but rather because “I would love to receive gifts and chocolate.”
Regardless if people celebrate Valentine’s or not, it is worth marking this day as one of love, understanding and care for one another.
“If we celebrate love, we can forget for an instant the tragedy (of war) because love inspires dialogue,” a Syrian state employee said. “Without love, there can be no solution to the crisis.”
Above you’ll find Your Middle East’s photo selection from the Middle East for Valentine’s 2013.