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Uzbek Students Being Forced To Shun Valentine's Day

Marking the lovers' holiday in private?

Uzbek university students are being required to sign a declaration promising they won't celebrate the February 14 holiday Valentine's Day.

In a declaration obtained by RFE/RL from a Tashkent university's journalism department, the signatory promises not to "tarnish the reputation of our university" and shun what is described as part of European mass culture.

Meanwhile, officials have increased the number of police patrols in parks and have organized poetry festivals throughout the country to take place on February 14.

Uzbek authorities have for years discouraged what they call "alien" Valentine's Day celebrations such as lovers sending cards to each, saying that young people should instead enjoy the poetry of 16th-century regional conqueror Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur.

The day coincides with the birthday of Babur, who ruled part of present-day Uzbekistan before founding the Mughal Empire.

Babur also had a passion for prose and poetry.

With reporting by AFP