Not a fan of Valentine's Day? Neither is Pakistan

As far as holidays go, Valentine's Day seems innocuous enough. But for some Muslim groups, it's a lot more sinister than hearts and flowers.

In Pakistan, for example, the Electronic Media Regulatory Authority wrote a letter this week requiring television and radio stations to censor content related to the holiday, deeming it "not in conformity to our religious and cultural ethos."

Tanzeem-e-Islami, an Islamist organization in the country, took censorship efforts one step further, urging the government to block cell phone service in order to prevent "moral terrorism"-- otherwise known as the swapping of sappy V-Day sentiments. The same group also plastered Karachi with anti-Valentine's billboards (that look suspiciously Valentine's-y) with warnings to citizens like, "Say No to Valentine's Day" (another billboard posted on Twitter declared, "Sorry Valentine's Day, I am 'Muslim'").

It's no surprise, of course, that conservative, Islamic clerics aren't enamored with this unapologetically consumerist, Western holiday named for a saint and and centered around romance. For many, the holiday seamlessly intertwines anti-Western sentiment with the threat of loosening moral values. The spokesman for the Pakistani Islamist organization Jamaat-e-Islami said as much this week:

This is imposing Western values and cultures on an Islamic society.... Look at the West -- people love their dogs but throw their parents out when they get old. We don't want to be like that.

Pakistan isn't the first Muslim country to wage a war against Valentine's Day. In Indonesia this year, protesters took to the streets with signs reading, "Valentine, Infidel Culture" and, "Are you Muslim? Don't follow Valentine Day." As we noted last year, countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, and Uzbekistan don't feel the love this time of year either. And hey, at least Pakistan didn't mark the holiday by banning the color red.



Comparing gun violence in the U.S. and South Africa

Just hours after the shocking announcement that Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee, Paralympic champion, and Olympic competitor, had been charged with fatally shooting his girlfriend in the head and arm at his house, the press is beginning to place the incident in the context of South Africa's gun culture -- in an echo of the gun control debate currently raging in the United States. So, how does gun violence in the two countries compare?

The United States has the highest rate of private gun ownership in the world (88.8 guns for every 100 people), while South Africa ranks 50th, with a rate of 12.7 guns per 100 people. But gun ownership does not necessarily correlate with gun-related homicide: According to U.N. data, South Africa trumps the United States in that category, with a rate of 17 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people, as compared to the U.S. rate of 3.2. The United States, however, does lead the developed world in the category.

Interestingly, a homicide is more likely to involve a gun in the United States (where more guns are available) than in South Africa. Just over 67 percent of homicides in the United States are committed by firearm, while in South Africa the rate of homicides by gun is 45 percent.

Here's a list of the most gun violence-plagued countries in the world, according to U.N. data. (Note: Some of these numbers are more recent than others.) For more on this subject, check out FP's slide show of the world's 10 deadliest cities.

1. Honduras: 68.4 gun-related homicides/100,000 people
2. El Salvador: 39.9
3. Jamaica: 39.4
4. Venezuela: 39
5. Guatemala: 34.8
6. Saint Kitts and Nevis: 32.4
7. Trinidad and Tobago: 27.3
8. Colombia: 27.1
9. Belize: 21.8
10. Puerto Rico: 18.3
11. Brazil: 18.1
12. South Africa: 17

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