Arabs mark Valentine’s Day with humour on social media

The message of love still prevailed outside the world of social media.
Thursday 14/02/2019
A man holds red flowers for Valentine's Day in in the Iraqi city of Mosul, on February 13. (Reuters)
A man holds red flowers for Valentine's Day in in the Iraqi city of Mosul, on February 13. (Reuters)

LONDON - Arabs appear to have marked Valentine’s Day with more humour than gestures of romance on social media platforms, although the message of love still prevailed outside the world of social media. 

The hashtags “Valentines_Day” and “Are_you_with_or_againts_Valentines_Day?” in Arabic were trending on Twitter. Few attempted to answer the question of the latter hashtag. 

“Love is always in the heart, it doesn’t need an allocated day,” tweeted one commentator. “Learn how to love first, then mark its day,” said another. 

Another twitter user agreed with not marking Valentine’s Day but for a different reasons. “I am against these feasts, we Muslims have only two feasts: Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr,” he tweeted. 

Some just said they are for marking the day, without saying why, but many of twitter users responded with humour. 

“Valentine’s Day is just like Eid al-Adha but the (scarified) sheep is different,” said a common tweet suggesting that men are the sacrifice as they have to bring their female partners gifts. 

“When he tells you that ‘you are the only rose in the garden of my heart’, do you believe him? Have you ever seen a garden with just one rose, you fool?” one commentator said.

“I want say this to all the girls who are in a relationship: I hope your dad catches you (with your lovers) on Valentine’s Day,” joked another. 

“As Valentine’s Day approaches, we sit back cross legged and watch the hypocrisy (of others),” one user tweeted. 

In a snapchat post, also shared on Twitter, one person mocked people celebrating the day: “On Eid al-Adha, you did not wake up (to help your family) but for Valentine’s Day, praise God, you’re eager for it a month in advance…how can you celebrate Valentine when you don’t even know how to love? You love her for three years and in the end you marry the person your mum picked for you….every one marries someone else’s lover…when you love someone and your father says you must marry your cousin Murhi [whose] ears fly like a helicopter.”

On the ground, however, Valentine’s Day was visibly marked in a number of Arab countries.

“February 14 is one of the most celebrated events in Egypt despite the country’s at times conservative culture and the fact it is largely a Western tradition. Across the country, restaurants, hotels, florists and taxi drivers rush to cash in,” reported Arab News. 

“Dar El-Ifta, the Egyptian government body founded to represent Islam and a centre for Islamic legal research, said for the first time that Valentine’s Day is not forbidden in Islam.” 

In marked difference to previous years, the Valentine sprit has caught on in Saudi Arabia.
“This year, Saudis have been seeing florists openly selling red roses and the Valentine's memorabilia in open markets without being disrupted by the religious police, whose declining presence is affecting the younger generation,” reported Al Bawaba website. 

The Russian state media outlet Sputnik also spotted the change in Saudi Arabia.

“The celebration is now no longer considered ‘haram’ and against Islamic sharia law, but is viewed as a ‘positive social event’ that has no links to faith whatsoever,” Sputnik reported. 

Even in war-ravaged places like the Palestinian enclave of Gaza or the Iraqi city of Mosul, some lovers were determined to make the best of the occasion. 

Members of civil activists group distribute flowers on Valentine's Day in the Iraqi city of Mosul, on February 14. (Reuters)
Members of civil activists group distribute flowers on Valentine's Day in the Iraqi city of Mosul, on February 14. (Reuters)
A Palestinian youngster walks past a shop selling love signs, chocolate and flowers on Valentine's Day in Gaza City, February 14. (Reuters)
A Palestinian youngster walks past a shop selling love signs, chocolate and flowers on Valentine's Day in Gaza City, February 14. (Reuters)