As Feb. 14 approaches, the police begin inspecting gift shops for items that are red or are intended as gifts to mark the holiday — a celebration of St. Valentine, a 3rd century Christian martyr — which is banned in Saudi Arabia. Such items are legal at other times of the year, but as Valentine’s Day nears they become contraband…
And salesmen urge shoppers to snap up their gifts early because no one knows when the religious police will begin their rounds.
In most instances the illegal items will be confiscated by authorities, though business owners found selling contraband can be jailed. Despite the Christian origins of Valentines Day, and its criminal status in Saudi Arabia, people still observe the holiday in Islamic countries.
“I don’t consider it a day venerating (St.) Valentine,” said al-Shammari, a 24-year-old student. “I see it as an international day of love.”
This Valentines Day, if you choose to observe the holiday, please celebrate your love.