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Southeast Asia, explained

Indonesia: Valentines' Day condemned as anti-Islam in Aceh

Muslim scholars warn youth to resist "foreign festivity"
Aceh valentines 2012 02 07Enlarge
An Acehnese woman covers her face as residents look on in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. She belonged to an unmarried couple that was paraded in a village after residents condemned their "unbecoming conduct" in public. (HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK/AFP/Getty Images)

If you plan to surprise your Acehnese squeeze with teddy bears and chocolate next week, keep it on the low.

As Valentine's Day looms, Muslims scholars are warning youth in Indonesia's Aceh province to resist the allure of this "foreign festivity."

"We must prevent the Muslim younger generation in Aceh from being poisoned by a culture that contradicts our Muslim values," the influential scholar Faizal Ali told the Jakarta Globe.

Quite a few of Aceh's religious prohibitions -- including a proposed religious law against punk rockers and a ban on New Year's celebrations -- come from this scholar, who has vowed to fight for "pure" Quranic law.

It just so happens that I recently interviewed him about the expansion of Shariah law and anti-punk sentiment for a coming package of stories reported from Aceh.

Stay tuned.