Malaysia Celebrates Valentine's Day by Arresting Unmarried Couples

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Correction: The original version of this post stated that more 80 people were arrested in the Valentine's Day crackdown, but that information was based on an out-of-date BBC story from 2011. We apologize for the error and any confusion.

The Star newspaper of Malaysias reports that five couples were arrested on Valentine's Day this year in what was dubbed the "Petaling District Level 6th Anti-Vice Campaign." Morality police in Malaysia kicked off Valentine's Day in 2011 by raiding cheap hotel rooms to arrest more than 80 young Muslims trying to "celebrate" the holiday. The unmarried couples were charged with "close proximity," which is basically being alone with a member of the opposite sex, a crime that is punishable by jail terms of up to two years. Islamic religious officials have been conducting an anti-Valentine's Day campaign that dates back to 2005, based on the idea that the holiday is a "trap" that is "synonymous with vice" and leads to other immoral activities. The raids took place almost immediately after midnight on Tuesday and focused on budget hotels and public parks, suggesting that the "couples" may not have been together that long, making them easy targets for morality warriors.

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