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Dukhtaran-e-Millat activists burn Valentine's Day cards in Kashmir

Associated Press

Posted: Feb 10, 2006 at 1624 hrs IST

Nearly two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift and stationery shops Friday in Kashmir, burning Valentine's Day cards and posters to protest a holiday they say imposes Western values on Muslim youth.

No one was hurt in the half-dozen or so incidents, and police cordoned off the area to prevent the women from marching through Srinagar's main shopping district to continue their ransacking.

The women were from the Kashmiri Islamic group Dukhtaran-e-Millat, or Daughters of the Community, Kashmir's only women's separatist group, whose members are also known for their fiercely conservative social views.

"We will not let anyone sell these cards or celebrate Valentine's Day," said Asiya Andrabi, the group's leader, as she held a burning poster in her hand. "These Western gimmicks are corrupting our kids and taking them away from their roots."

She said that the raids were carried out "not to harm anyone but to make them realize that this is against Islam's teachings."

The protesters dispersed after chanting religious slogans. Mohammad Sarwar, though, was furious as he looked over the goods tossed around his small stationery store.

"They barged in, grabbed cards and posters and burnt them outside. Most of the cards were not even Valentine cards. It is difficult to do business with such threats looming overhead," he said.

Valentine's Day has become increasingly popular in India over the past decade. But it has also become a cultural flash point, opposed each year in India by conservative Hindu and Muslim groups who see it as a reflection of growing permissiveness.

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