Uzbekistan has banned Valentines day according to the BBC. Uzbekistan is a Central Asian country, a former part of the Soviet Union. It lies between Kazakhstan to the north, and Afghanistan to the south. It is a frequent target of criticism from humanitarian and civil rights organizations. In lieu of Valentines day, the state media is promoting festivals celebrating the birthday of the Moghul Emperor Babur, a decendent of Genghis Khan.
The response to the government’s edict by the population is one of bored indifference. They’re used to celebrating Valentine’s day, and many will continue to do so with or without the government’s blessing. In fact, by opposing it so fiercely, it is likely that they’re making Valentines day more popular.
It’s tempting to think of this situation as uncommon. A crazy law by a young country, but culture laws exist in more mature nations as well. France has a law that states radio and television stations must devote a certain percentage of air time to French artists. The United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand have similar laws. These laws would violate the Constitution in the United States, but there is mounting pressure to enact laws that target other cultures.
There is a movement in the U.S. to have English mandated as the official language of the United States. What that means is that government documents such as tax forms, or a drivers license test would be available only in English. Having an official language is like outlawing Valentines day. It is a symbolic gesture, designed to express xenophobia without stating outright that the people who support the law are afraid of the other. Like Uzbekistan’s attempt to outlaw romance, excluding non-English speakers from our society by law will fail.