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Muslim leaders in Indonesia have told the faithful not to celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is sinful and leads to "free sex".
"We forbid Muslims to celebrate Valentine’s Day," said Abdullah Cholil, an East Java leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the mainly Muslim country’s biggest Islamic organisation.
"The day is often celebrated by young, unmarried people. They celebrate Valentine’s Day by holding hands or having free sex, which they are not supposed to be doing," he said.
Lalilurrahman, the East Java branch chief of the country’s highest Islamic body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, said the celebration of romance and love was a Western tradition and therefore should not interest Muslims.
"Valentine’s Day originated from Western culture. It’s not in accordance with Islamic and Eastern culture," he said.
Shopping centres in Indonesia’s major cities are decked out with Valentine’s Day gift offerings as well as displays marking Chinese New Year.
Most Indonesians are moderate Muslims, and few pay much attention to the moral edicts of local Islamic leaders.
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