In Iran, where conflicts between religious authorities and reformist student movements seems to be growing, authorities have been cracking down on illicit contact between men and women, including anything that smacks of decadent Western values — such as Valentine’s cards.
In February, Iranian police ordered shops to remove Valentine’s cards and decorations and in some cases confiscated “corrupt materials” being sold to promote the holiday.
According to the Associated Press, the crackdown appeared to be limited largely to northern Tehran, a wealthy area where exposure to Western culture is more common than in other parts of Iran.
In March, meanwhile, a Basij militia (religious police) commander told Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency that 68 men and women were arrested in Tehran for running a web sit where young men and women could meet to talk and arrange meetings.
IRNA quoted General Ahmad Rouzbehani as saying,
Some people were using an internet site to allow girls and boys to talk and arrange meetings in a place in north Tehran where they had illegal relations.
According to the BBC, the Basij regularly raid parties and gatherings where both men and women are present, but this is the first time it has targeted an Internet site.
Iranians arrested for net dating. The BBC, March 3, 2003.
Iranian cops curtail Cupid’s canoodling. Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press, February 12, 2003.