Iran rules “decadent” Valentine’s Day celebrations a crime

People buy flowers to celebrate the upcoming Valentine's Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Celebrating Valentine's Day is considered un-Islamic in Pakistan, but many still buy flowers and exchange gifts with others at this time of year. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran says it is cracking down on Valentine’s Day celebrations and shops engaging in them will be guilty of a crime.

Iranian news outlets reported the police directive Friday warning retailers against promoting “decadent Western culture through Valentine’s Day rituals.” Police informed Tehran’s coffee and ice cream shops trade union to avoid any gatherings in which boys and girls exchange Valentine’s Day gifts.

The annual Feb. 14 homage to romance, which tradition says is named after an early Christian martyr, has become popular in recent years in Iran and other Middle East countries.

The backlash in the Islamic Republic is part of a drive against the spread of Western culture.

Saudi Arabia has also sought to stamp out Valentine’s Day but it’s celebrated widely in nearby places like Dubai.

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