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Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sudan call for Valentine boycott

Valentine's Day goods in a shop window
Valentine's Day has become more and more popular across Africa

Muslim clerics in Sudan have urged young couples to boycott Valentine's Day, saying it is a Western institution that could lead couples astray.

Members of Sudan's Ulema Authority said unmarried couples would do better to save money for their weddings.

They should resist the temptation to go on romantic strolls in parks on 14 February, the senior clerics said.

The lovers' holiday has become more and more popular in recent years among young people in the capital, Khartoum.

Card sales up

"Valentine's Day comes from Western countries. I call on Muslims not to imitate Christians," said preacher Sheikh Hassan Hamid, in a statement released to Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

"The money that is spent on Valentine's Day would be better spent encouraging young people to marry," he added.

Correspondents say public displays of affection between men and women are unheard of in Sudan's almost entirely Muslim north, with kissing and holding hands on the street frowned upon in the conservative culture.

Sudanese religious authorities have condemned Valentine's Day before, but shops in Khartoum have been selling increasing numbers of Valentine cards in recent years.

And young couples can occasionally be seen sitting, a discreet distance apart, in parks and some of the city's restaurants.

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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Sudan
29 Jan 09 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Sudan
29 Jan 09 |  Country profiles

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