Pakistan warns media against promoting Valentine’s Day

A man inflates a heart shaped balloon ahead of Valentine’s day in Peshawar, Pakistan Feb. 7, 2018. (Reuters/Fayaz Aziz)
Updated 07 February 2018

Pakistan warns media against promoting Valentine’s Day

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s media regulator has warned television channels and radio stations to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day after a court banned celebrations last year.
Valentine’s Day is increasingly popular among younger Pakistanis, with many taking up the custom of giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts to mark the occasion.
But the country remains a deeply traditional Muslim society and many disapprove of the holiday as a Western import.
Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain told a crowd of students in 2016 that the day had no place in the Muslim-majority nation and urged young people to focus on their studies instead.
Last year, the Islamabad High Court prohibited celebrations in public spaces and government offices across the country.
In a Twitter post Wednesday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said last year’s ban was still in place and urged the media to “desist from promoting” the festivities.
Social media users were quick to respond, with some mocking the regulatory body.
“Hate preechers who incite violence in name of Islam are back on air. These hate monger are promoted & protected by the state of #Pakistan. But love speak and red heart balloon and flower vendors are a danger to this republic and Islam,” journalist Ahmad Noorani posted on Twitter.
Another user Adnan Sami commented on Facebook: “PEMRA directs media to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day, PEMRA never directs media from promoting hate monger Mullahs.”
Others lauded the decision, echoing the views of officials who have previously blasted the celebrations as “vulgar and indecent.”
Ali Danish said on Twitter: “Pemra did right. What sort of love do you want to spread via Valentine’s day? Us distancing ourselves from islam is haunting us big-time.”

Press freedom group CPJ urges UN to probe Yemeni journalist’s death

Updated 13 June 2018

Press freedom group CPJ urges UN to probe Yemeni journalist’s death

  • Anwar Al-Rakan died on June 2, two days after he was released by the Houthis.
  • Committee to Protect Journalists wants the UN Security Council to investigate.

LONDON: International press freedom group the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the UN to investigate the death of a Yemeni journalist detained by the Houthis.

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate said Anwar Al-Rakan died on June 2, two days after he was released by Houthi militias. He previously worked for Al-Gomhouria, a government-run newspaper.

The journalist had been missing for about a year. His family said he was abducted because he possessed a press card from the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate.

They heard nothing of his fate until the Houthis contacted them to inform them he was being transferred to a local hospital. The journalists’ syndicate, Belqees TV and the independent newspaper Al-Masdar, all say Al-Rakan was tortured in custody and was released because his health had deteriorated so badly. Photographs of the journalist’s emaciated body have been circulated on social media.

The US-based CPJ wants the UN Security Council to investigate Al-Rakan’s death.

“Even by the standards of Yemen’s civil war, the year-long torture and deprivation suffered by journalist Anwar Al-Rakan marks a new low,” said Sherif Mansour, the CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

“We call on the Houthis to stop targeting the press and to release the 11 journalists reported to be in their custody. The Houthis ultimately must be held accountable for the treatment of journalists in the areas they control.”

According to the CPJ, numerous journalists have been abducted, detained and tortured by the Houthis since 2014.