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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 16:05 GMT
Valentine's Day celebrations under fire
Iranian women pass a shop displaying Valentine's Day hearts and toys in Tehran
Iranian authorities consider Valentine's Day decadent
Conservative forces in the Middle East and South Asia have cracked down on shops marketing Valentine's Day.

In the Indian capital, Delhi, several people were reported injured when stores selling romantic cards and gifts were attacked by right-wing militants.

Police in Iran, meanwhile, are reported to have closed several shops in Tehran, while religious groups in Pakistan have held protests against the 14 February celebration.

Religious hardliners consider such Western occasions as decadent and an insult to Hinduism and Islam.

Violent protest

In Delhi, about a dozen members of the Hindu Shiv Sena Party attacked two shops selling Valentine items, completely destroying one of the properties.

Shiv Sena members burn Valentine card in Delhi
They smashed the glass windows, lights and other fixtures, and tore the cards

Eyewitness, Delhi

An eyewitness told the French news agency AFP: "They came in two cars and began shouting anti-Valentine's Day slogans before entering the shop.

"They smashed the glass windows, lights and other fixtures, and tore the cards."

Security has been stepped up across the country to head off violent protests that have occurred in recent years.

In the Indian city of Bombay, police will be on full alert to ensure Valentine's Day passes peacefully, a senior police official, Himanshu Roy, told the BBC.

Authorities in Iran have shut stores selling Valentine's Day products and ordered others to remove heart-and-flower decorations.

In Pakistan, fundamentalist students condemned Valentine's Day as a day of shame and lust.

Thai love

Thailand, on the other hand, embraces Valentine's Day whole-heartedly.

The celebration there is an excuse for shopping, eating out, gimmicks and getting married.

Some 1,500 couples are expected to queue from the early hours of Friday to register their marriages in Bangkok's district of Bang Rak (Love District), as has been the practice for many years.

And on Kradan Island in the south of the country, locals hope to break the world record as the most popular underwater wedding destination.

See also:

11 Feb 03 | South Asia
14 Feb 02 | South Asia
14 Feb 01 | South Asia
01 Feb 02 | South Asia
12 Feb 01 | South Asia
14 Feb 02 | In Depth
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