Saudi Police Begin Valentine's Day Crackdown
The holiday, and any item invoking it, are banned
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 11, 2010 10:39 AM CST
A Saudi woman tries to choose a Valentine's Day teddy bears at a gift shop in Riyadh, Jan 30, 2009. Stores know that as Feb. 14 approaches, religious police begin inspecting gift shops for such items.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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(Newser) – The Saudi religious police are cracking down on stores selling items that are red or in any other way allude to the banned celebration of Valentine's Day. A Saudi official says policemen are inspecting shops for red roses, heart-shaped products, and gifts wrapped in red, and ordering store owners to get rid of them. Such items are legal at other times of the year, but as Feb. 14 nears they become contraband.

Saudi Arabia bans celebration of Western holidays such as Valentine's Day, named after a Christian saint said to have been martyred by the Romans in the 3rd century. Most shops in Riyadh's upscale neighborhoods have removed all red items from their shelves.