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Not so simple

Reader comment on item: Hating Valentine's Day

Submitted by Arun Gupta (United States), Mar 1, 2004 at 21:37

India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia represent very different cultures. What is anti-modern about all three phenomena noted in the article is the use of threats or actual violence against an undesired social phenomenon, the adoption of Valentine's Day.

Let us note that many Hindu radicals were among the foremost resistance to the suspension of civil liberties in India during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Emergency, 1975-77. These people are for elections, democracy and for women's education. They are for social equality and at least part of the rhetoric against them is because their programs innoculate people against the depredations of Christian missionaries. Let me say unequivocally that the Shiv Sena is wrong in the way it opposes Valentine's Day. The irony regarding India is that the British colonial rule forced India into a Victorian straitjacket, that was the Kiplingesque burden of civilizing the natives; and now again, India is being asked to follow Western mores or be considered "anti-modern".

To move onto Pakistan. The Basant (spring) festival was celebrated by the people of Punjab long before the arrival of Islam; and Muslims there have been celebrating it at least since the time of Amir Khusro (13th century). Now there is a move among Islamic groups to have the celebration of the festival ban, and various religious leaders have issued opinions against it, calling the festival obscene and against Islam. Now rejection of a centuries' old custom is not anti-modernism; it is in line with the rejection of Valentine's Day, too. It is probably an attempt to get to a pristine Islam.

About Saudi Arabia what little I know makes me wonder why America even keeps diplomatic relations with such a country. The sole difference between the Taliban and Saudis is that the Taliban did not have oil; and the Taliban did not wear business suits or put on a facade to cozy up to America. So I will not speculate on their motives.
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