First of all, a Happy Belated Valentines Day to my readers! I am back full-time in school and have a new full-time job so my posts until June will be quite sparse and will likely err on the lighter side of Middle Eastern affairs (read: cultural).
I wrote about Valentines Day last year; despite being a Hallmark-y American tradition, Valentines Day is indeed celebrated on February 14th across the Middle East as well as on other special days of love (such as Love Day in Egypt). This year, there was no shortage of celebration, but then again there was also animosity towards love and displays of affecton, too.
Muslims online took to criticizing the holiday; the above internet meme was posted by an Indonesian woman and iterates a sentiment echoed by many radical groups in the MENA. Salafists in the Gaza strip took to the streets this Valentines Day to condemn the holiday as a Western practice, stating that it promoted forbidden relationships, despite the fact that married people celebrate the holiday as well. In Gaza, many couples give each other flowers or red items. In Iraq, there is an increasing trend girls in rural areas are being married off in their teens-often to men who are more than twice their age, according to an Al-Monitor reporting.
Celebrities such as MJK (Malikat Jamal al-koun, aka ‘Most Beautiful Woman in the World’) Diva Haifa Wehbe took to their social media-and the stage-to celebrate the holiday, with Haifa sharing beautiful pics of her new ads for Zoughaib jewelry. Several ladies performed, including Nancy Ajram who went to the Golden Tulip in Tunis (where she was greeted by fans who had already memorized her new song!) and Diana Karazon who belted out the tunes in Doha, Qatar. Mega Arab star Tamer Hosny, my favorite Arab singer of all time, was actually-gasp!-here in the United States on his Valentines Day Tour but sadly was not coming to the New York/New Jersey area. Oh whyyyy Tamer, whyyy? You could have made this girl the happiest girl on Valentines Day!