Uzbekistan 'Cancels' Valentine's Day

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Uzbekistan
Pedestrians walk past Bibi Khanum mosque in Uzbekistan

People in Uzbekistan have been forced to replace Valentine's Day with the birth anniversary of the Moghul emperor Babur, which falls on the same day.

Uzbek authorities, in a bid to promote the study and appreciation of the national hero Babur, cancelled events scheduled to be held to celebrate Valentine's Day, which included the hugely popular Western music concert by singer Rayhan.

An official from the education ministry's Department for Enlightenment and Promoting Values told the BBC that the ministry had issued an internal decree not to celebrate holidays that are alien to our culture and instead promote Babur's birthday.

The government has organized several poetry reading sessions to commemorate Babur's birthday replacing romantic arrangements.

Citizens' reaction to the decree cancelling Valentine's Day was mixed.

It's the birthday of our great ancestor Mohammed Zahiriddin Babur, Abdullaw, a Tashkent resident said. Why should we celebrate some artificial, lightweight event? It doesn't fit our mentality and our history, he said.

However, many said they found nothing wrong with the Rayhan show. It (Valentine's Day ban) is laughable, journalist Jasur Hamraev said. For 10 years she (Rayhan) has been giving concerts on that day and this year it is banned as if someone had suddenly remembered that it's happening.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have also banned Valentine's Day celebrations, according to Middle East media reports. People are not allowed to gift chocolates, bears or roses on Valentine's Day in Saudi, while Iran government had earlier warned citizens against ignoring the ban.

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