Valentine's Day now Sisters' Day: Faisalabad varsity to 'promote Islamic traditions' on Feb 14

Updated January 13, 2019

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University of Agriculture Faisalabad vice chancellor says Muslims should convert "threat" of Valentine's Day into an opportunity. ─ AFP/File
University of Agriculture Faisalabad vice chancellor says Muslims should convert "threat" of Valentine's Day into an opportunity. ─ AFP/File

The University of Agriculture Faisalabad has announced it will celebrate Sisters' Day on February 14 to "promote Islamic traditions", according to Vice Chancellor Zafar Iqbal Randhawa.

Female students on campus can be gifted scarves and abayahs as gifts during the celebration as decided by the vice chancellor and other decision makers at the varsity.

The vice chancellor, while speaking to DawnNewsTV said he wasn't sure if his suggestion to celebrate Sisters' Day "would click or not", but he believed it was compatible with Pakistan's culture and Islam.

Randhawa said that although some Muslims have turned Valentine's Day into a threat, "My thinking is that if there is a threat, convert it into an opportunity."

The VC said that Muslim women face certain conditions related to their attire which dictate that their body should not be revealed. "Women are at a very high rank for us," he added.

"Today the era of gender empowerment is here, Western thinking is being promoted," he complained. "But the best gender empowerment and division of work is in our religion and culture."

He claimed that celebrating Sisters' Day would allow "a soft image to develop", and that people will realise that this is how much sisters are loved in Pakistan.

"Is there a love greater than that between brother and sister?" he asked. "On Sisters' Day, it is greater than the love between husband and wife."

February 14 — traditionally celebrated as Valentine's day all over the world — has been a subject of controversy in Pakistan for years, drawing a mixed response from citizens, with some celebrating and supporting it but others protesting against it.

In major cities, various restaurants, delivery services, bakeries and businesses cash in on the celebrations by pushing Valentine's Day promotions. However, anti-Valentine's Day campaigns also surface in the form of banners strung up on streets throughout the country and on university campuses.

The Islamabad High Court had in 2017 and 2018 "banned" all valentines day celebrations, and print and electronic media were warned to "stop all Valentine's Day promotions immediately".

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had also been ordered to monitor all mediums and send out notifications banning any related promotions.

In 2016, then president Mamnoon Hussain had urged Pakistanis to forego celebrating Valentine’s Day, saying that it was not a part of Muslim tradition, but a Western innovation.

"Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided," he had said.