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Egypt: Valentine's Day Dilemma

Forget about anything you know about the Valentine's Day, as you are going to experience so many contradicting reactions and thoughts regarding this day, after paying the Egyptian blogosphere a visit. Some people just celebrate the occasion, some curse it, some see it silly and some believe it is against religion.

Ze2red wrote a message here to her beloved one on the occasion of the Valentine's Day:

Like a soft whisper … you entered my heart
Eased my pain & washed my brain
You made it so clear that nothing goes in vain
Because of you i have trust again
That friendship is something someone has to gain

Fatma, at Brownie, wrote a post here to say that Valentine's Day can still be celebrated even if you're still not able to find your better half:

My English book when I was in my primary school was called “Look, Listen and Learn” it was a very sweet and informative book.

I added a new L word, which is love, although I was not happy in my love life, however I have always believed that love is not only between a man and a woman, it has many variations and one of its best variation is love between friends, and this is the motive of writing this post.

I still believe that I am complete, even if Mr. Right is not next to me; my photo is perfect and pretty although I am alone.

Amr Fahmy, who blogs at Zakzouk, wrote here on how we are imitating others, and importing celebrations from other countries while ruining the true value of those celebrations:

من كذا شهر كدة وأنا مروح من الشغل بالليل لاحظت إن شوارع الزمالك كلها قافلة تماما.. إيه الحكاية؟ ده عيد “الهالوين”.. نعم ياخويا؟ هالوين ايه؟ بتاع قرع العسل اللي بيكشر عن أنيابه ده؟ اللي اسمه طبقا لترجمة أنيس عبيد “عيد القديسين”؟ أيوة هو!! وإذا ببنات وولاد لابسين قرون صناعية وبيبخوا على بعض سبراي في مظهر هزلي ماشككنيش للحظة إني في مصر.. لأن للأسف بقى معتاد إننا نتهبل على أي حاجة جاية من برة وخلاص.
نفس الكلام حصل قبل كذا سنة مع عيد الحب.. وفاكر كويس أوي شكل جامعة القاهرة يوم 14 فبراير واغلب البنات لابسين أحمر يا إما درجة من درجاته.. في حين كل ولد ناتع على قلبه دبدوب بشكل كرنفالي يفسد أي معاني حقيقية للحب
A few months ago, on my way back to home, I noticed that all the shops in Zamalek were closed. What's going on, I asked? It's Halloween. Hello? What? Isn't that the feast with evil-looking pumpkins, and they call it “All Saints feast”, in movies with subtitles in Arabic? Yes, that's it! And all of a sudden, I found boys and girls wearing plastic horns on their heads, and spraying each other in a comic scene. I wasn't shocked any way, as it's now normal for people here in Egypt to be obsessed with anything that comes from the West.
The same incident happened to me few years, but that time it was the Valentine's day. I still remember most of the girls with me in college were wearing red clothes, and the boys were carrying huge teddies in a carnival-like scene that ruins any romantic value of love.

Roh Bobbos wrote here about how the Valentine's Day changes everything around her:

مع أقتراب عيد الحب ( الفالانتين داى ) نجد كل شىء تغير وتبدل وليس فقط فى اللون الذى يتحول للأحمر فى كل شىء فتسير فى الشوارع
تجد كل شىء لونه أحمر الملابس والهدايا ومن الممكن أن تتعثر قدمك فتنظر لتجد دبدوب أو قلب أحمر بجوارك تظل تسير وتنظر حولك وكل شىء تحول لهذا اللون

وفى جولة سريعة على المدونات وموقع الفيس بوك تجد كما هائلا من الورود والهدايا والأمنيات والآحلام وغالبا ومعظم من يرسلوا هذه الهدايا ويكتبون
الكلمات الجميلة يحتفلوا بهذا العيد بمفردهم ولكنهم يريدوا أن يشبعوا رغبتهم ويدخلوا بعض السرور الى قلبهم وقلوب من
حولهم فيبدأو فى أرسال الهدايا الحمراء بالبطبع وكتابة المواضيع على المدونات والفيس بوك أحتفالا بالحب
As Valentine's Day approaches, every thing around us changes. It doesn't only paint everything in red, from clothes to presents – but you may even trip on a red teddy bear or heart while walking if you are not careful. As you walk, you will see that everything around you has changed to this colour.

And after a short visit to the blogosphere and to Facebook, you find a huge amount of flowers, presents and wishes. Those were mostly sent by lonely people celebrating this event alone, and they just want to enjoy themselves and please those around them so they start sending those red presents and writing about those topics on their blogs and Facebook pages.

She then continued:

ولكن أى حب هذا الذى يحتفلون به ؟؟
فأغلبهم لا يجد قوت يومه ويجرى طوال حياته يبحث عن لقمة العيش وأبسط أحتياجاته الأساسية فالبطبع أشخاص كهؤلاء ليس معهم ما يؤهلهم للأرتباط أو التفكير حتى فى هذه الكلمة
But what love are they celebrating? Most of them don't have enough money to feed themselves or even fulfill their basic needs, and for sure people like this aren't capable of starting a relationship or even thinking of falling in love.

Marwa Hasan, who writes at Depressedy, wrote a post here showing how she thinks the Valentine's Day is overrated:

Apparently am an anti-valentine person and I hate how people just follow nonsense. It's overrated in a way, I mean why should it be any more special than any other day in a relationship?!

Also Neisy M believes that the Valentine's Day is overrated. She wrote here about her feelings regarding this day, and then decided on this occasion to send her “I Love You” messages to her parents and friends instead of sending it to her lover:

Love is in the air.Cupids are resting up above admiring their match making effort for the previous year.(Note to cupids:Stop aiming at lame people.I'm right here.Can't you see me?!=P)But seriously, I do think that Valentine's is the most over rated holiday ever.It has nothing to do with me being single or acting like a hater,but I witness how people tend to over react on which gift is bigger or more expensive or which date was the most romantic or who remembered first…etc.Love is not to be celebrated in a day.I don't believe that a guy/ girl will wait all the way to Valentine's to express love.Sometimes the simplest things are the most special.It sure is a special occasion to be celebrated with our loved ones.Its another day to say “I love you” sincerely.So here are my “I love you”s for this year.
My number one “I love you” goes as always to my mom.I believe that till the day I have my last breath ever no one will come even close to the level of love I have for my mom.

My second runner up will indeed be my awesome Dad.Although we don't always tend to go along because I'm always a bit over the edge and he is always trying to pull me back to the safe side.
….

And Egyptian blogger, Ana Muslim, posted here links to verdicts by Islamic scholars who believe the the Valentine's Day celebrations are prohibited by the religion. While, on the other hand, Silent Majority, wrote here wondering why the Salafi/Wahabi scholars insist on fighting and cursing Valentine's Day.

He says:

ليه بيطلع كل سنة في الوقت دة فتاوى و تحذيرات و تهديدات من بعض السلفيين بيندد و يهدد بالأحتفال بعيد الحب و يبشر المحتفلين بعذاب اليم في الدنيا و الأخرة
الناس دي ايه فكرتها عن عيد الحب بالضبط……..؟
فاكرين ايه اللي بيحصل فيه؟؟؟
انا عن نفسي بأحتفل بعيد الحب اني بأهدي زوجتي هدية………….بس كدة……….لا اكثر و لا اقل؟؟
اذنبت انا ام اجرمت؟؟؟
Why every year the Salafi scholars issue verdicts that condemn Valentine's Day and threaten people who celebrate it with God's punishment.
What do they think the Valentine's Day is?
What do they think happens in it?
I myself celebrate it by bringing a present to my wife, and that's it, nothing more, and nothing less. What's my fault then?

10 comments

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  • Jamshaid Khan Barki

    Its non-religious or religious, what so ever it is, we muslims must not celebrate it untill the non-muslims start celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha with the same spirits, with which they want us to celebrate their days.

    Regards.

    • Robby

      Jamshaid – I don’t know what country you live in, but in the US Valentines day is considered non-religous and is celebrated by MOST people, regardless of religion, nationality or color. Yes, even in the public schools!

      Your religion should not interfere with expressing your love or caring for another individual, should it?

  • Jennifer Mc Cleary

    Valentines day was a sham holiday created by the Hallmark Card Company to sell greeting cards. The concept of Valentines Day is non-threatening (i.e. love for those around you, appreciation of your significant other, etc.). However, in typical American capitalistic fashion, ALL Valentines commercials (and even Christmas commercials, for that matter) depict women as NEEDING roses and diamonds and that the only way for men to “get any” is by spending a lot of money on their women. Do women really judge a man’s worth by how many roses, diamonds, and stuffed teddybears they recieve? What about appreciating men? Are there commercials that encourage women to buy men power tools and sports paraphernalia? I wonder if Valentines Day is commercialized in the same fashion in other countries? Someone please enlighten me! Valentines Day should by no means be copied by other cultures because the “holiday” is a joke, even in the States.

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  • […] according to Tong, are open to participating in gang rape. You can find just about any and every imaginable reaction to Valentine’s Day from Egyptian bloggers. Writing in Arabic Amr Fahmy is frustrated by the full-fledged importation of Western holidays like […]

  • Jennifer Mc Cleary

    Robby,

    If I were you, I’d do a little research on Valentines day. The “holiday” was named after a Christian martyr named Saint Valentine. So it’s beginings were religious. Of course it was later commercialized as I state above. I believe Mr. Barki’s point is that if we want our holidays to be practiced in other countries, we need to school ourselves in their holidays and customs as well. Although I doubt highly that everyday Americans would accept such a thing, seeing as how culturally assimilated and ethnocentric we are. I did look up, both Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha and I must say, they are very similar to Thanksgiving and Lent, respectively. I think making an attempt to understand our similarities is better then trying to shove our holidays down each other’s throats.

  • Robby

    Jennifer – I didn’t say the holiday should be exported to other countries, what they do is their business. I was stating that in the US Valentines day is celebrated people of all religions, races and ethnic backgrounds.

    I am aware of the origins of the holiday, but it has evolved to become totally secular. It does not represent any religion or nation. I am not a Christian and even if I was, I would never push a religous holiday on anyone else, that would be wrong.

    Of course Mr. Baraki can celebrate whatever he chooses to, but refusing to participate in a secular celebration of love unless everyone else embraces his religous holidays seem short sided.

  • Jennifer Mc Cleary

    I understand the point you’re trying to make but again, that’s not his point. I don’t think he cares that it’s non-religious or that all religious groups celebrate it here in the States (which I may beg to differ). It’s really more about Western culture seeping into the Eastern world. Whether it’s secular or not it’s still based in religion and Americans are (and will continue to be) willfully ignorant of other people’s cultures and beliefs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he’s asking us to educate ourselves in their holidays and customs, as they have been forced, to some extent, to learn about ours. I’m sure Valentines Day in Egypt, although a harmless “holiday,” is not welcomed by some people based solely on the fact that American culture is constantly being inundated into their rich and distinct culture. Besides, they probably have a holiday of their own that represents a similar custom. I respect your opinion but I don’t agree.

  • Robby

    I don’t understand what you mean by “they have been forced, to some extent, learn about ours”. I’m guessing American companies would not be peddling their wares in a country if it were not profitable. If people in Egypt (or any other country) feel they are inundated with western culture they can vote with their wallet.

    I live in the SF Bay Area and have seen changes – there have been efforts by Mosques/Islamic centers to hold open houses, and participate in local functions. I don’t view this as an insult, or anyone forcing their culture on me, just the opposite, it is a positive.

    I also respect your opinion and appreciate the honest debate.

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