Friday, February 21, 2014

No-No, Valentine!

No Valentine's Day in Iraq, either.
On February 14th we had Friendship Day at our school.  Students could pay 10SR for the privilege of not wearing their uniform that day (the money goes to charity) and were decked out in reds and pinks.  It's so strange to see them all out of uniform, and some little ones (or their parents) took full advantage and decked themselves out in fancy dresses and styled hair.

Valentine's Day is forbidden here.  Islamic code strictly prohibits any public display of affection between sexes is completely taboo and men and women are completely segregated (which is why Mark could place his falafel order inside a street shop, but I had to give my order through a window because I wasn't allowed inside).  The muttawa (or religious police, which are officially known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) patrolled the shops for red roses, heart-shaped decorations or gifts, and Valentine's chocolates.  Of course, I'm sure shopkeepers and shoppers probably found a way around the ban--or decamped to Bahrain where life is not so restrictive!

I have never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day, except for conversation hearts!  It really is a manufactured commercial attempt to sell stuff and I probably would not have even noticed that there was nothing missing, had I not heard about the ban.  Just one more quirk of life overseas!

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