February 14, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 7891

Article In Qatari Daily: 'Kill Valentine's Day'

February 14, 2019
The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 7891

On February 14, 2019, on the occasion of Valentine's Day, the Qatari government daily Al-Sharq published an article titled "Kill Valentine's Day," by journalist Ibtisam Aal Sa'd, in which she lamented the fact that some Qataris celebrate Christian holidays such as Valentine's Day and adopt Western customs and norms. She called to return to the "days of chastity" when women wore long black abayas and lowered their gaze when a man passed by, and men lowered their gaze when women passed by.

The following are excerpts from the article:

"It's a shame that, at a time when we see and hear that thousands of people in the West are becoming familiar with our Islam and tens of thousands of people are joining it every day, finding in Islam a safe haven from waylessness, ignorance and the struggle among [different] religions that pulled this way and that, there are some among us who turn to Western nonsense and Western customs, which Allah did not validate in any way... It's a shame that this nonsense exists among us while others search for serious [meaning]. I refer to the disturbing [phenomenon] that I am seeing: some stores and markets are already putting in their windows red-colored ads for so-called Valentine's Day...

"As I write, I am tiring myself out trying to count all the made-up 'holidays' [celebrated] in our Arab homeland, which we treat as historic occasions, giving them all our attention and making sure to mark them, as though there is a competition for marking these silly occasions and dragging the young people and teens to become preoccupied with these temptations and perversions. After Valentine's Day there will be Mother's Day and Halloween and Christmas and the madness of the Silvester [celebrations]...

"What's going on? Why are these made-up holidays thriving while our authentic holidays are losing their shine? What brought us to this state, which we [once] thought impossible? I am not talking only about the so-called holidays, because the issue is broader and more complex. I, and no doubt many others as well, cannot countenance what we are seeing. I see young men shedding their manliness and putting on tight feminine clothes, and young women like me who insist on denying their femininity and wearing men's jalabiyas...

"Who is the culprit behind this reprehensible [trend of] globalization that has begun to grow while forcefully diminishing [our] values and traditions? Is our aspiration to re-embrace the simple [traditional] ideals so hard to realize, or perhaps [even] impossible? Who is behind this inappropriate openness and is forcing it down our throats in the name of reprehensible modernity?

"Do you regard me a 'primitive reactionary', writing lines redolent of the dust of the ages, when I urge you to 'take me back, by Allah, to the days of chastity'? [The days when] a young woman would lower her gaze in embarrasment and courtesy if a man even came near her, and when a man would lower his gaze when he passed among women [dressed in] closed black abayas? And where are these abayas, anyway? I have heard of them, but I never see them, now that the attack of bright colors has swept them away...

"Arabness has turned into Westernization and religion has become [mere] tradition, so it's no surprise that new holidays have joined our [old] ones."

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