The sale of Valentine's Day gifts by shops, and the promotion in any way of the annual day for sweethearts, has been banned by Iranian authorites, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency. The February 14 celebration itself isn't officially banned, but conservative hardliners have warned about the corrupting permeation of Western values. Under Iran's Sharia law, unwed couples are not even allowed to mingle. The printing owners' union issued a directive on the ban which encompasses "Printing and producing any goods related to this day including posters, boxes and cards emblazoned with hearts or half-hearts, red roses and any activities promoting this day."
Valentine's Day has grown in popularity in Iran over the past decade, and has become a lucrative business in a country where seventy percent of the population is under the age of thirty. Some nationalists have suggested replacing Valentine's Day with Mehregan, a pre-Islamic festival in October that marks the autumn equinox and honors the ancient Persian angel of love, Mithra. This religious apartheid will come to a head eventually — we've already seen it begin with the Green Movement — but it's kind of sad that the theocratic regime is scared of a little ol' Tehran Teddy Bear.