Stores in Tehran told to stop selling Valentine's Day gifts

Somayeh Malekian for ABC News(TEHRAN, Iran) — Gift shops around Tehran, Iran had stocked their shelves with heart-shaped balloons, roses and small glass hearts for Valentine’s Day.

But government officials are warning shop owners not sell Valentine’s Day balloons, which are popular in town.

“Based on the decision of the [haberdashery] guild, members are informed about the prohibition of selling such balloons and they must follow the regulations,” said Hossein Dokmehchi, head of the haberdashery guild, according to Mehr News Agency.

One gift shop owner said the decision was unfair.

“[The police] only come to check on the Valentine’s Day and look for anything huge in the shape of heart in the shop windows,” said Mr. Anisi, 53, who did not want his full name to be published. “They say the [holiday] is an occasion in western culture. So, if I do not follow the regulations, they will close my shop from three to seven days, and they have done it before.”

Narges, a 29-year old physician who had come to buy gifts for her sweetheart, said she does not understand the ban.

“I am sure if those officials who make such decisions are honest, they also want their children to channel their youthful energy into love and friendship. They must accept us the way we really are,” she said.

Zahra Rahmani, an 18-year-old industrial engineering student who follows the long black veil conservative dress code, questioned the decision of government officials.

“Why do [they] think the occasion is exclusively for romantic relations? I would love to buy a gift for my mother tomorrow,” she said.

“Even if the decision is true, it is not possible to control all shops around the city with so many customers,” her cousin, Hannaneh Jebelli, added.

According to the Mehr News Agency report, Dokmechi explained that the guild is merely responsible for sending out the notice and other related organizations are responsible for “executing” the regulation.

After years of closing his shop for a week after Valentine’s Day, Anisi said he finally decided to speak up.

“I went to the related police office and told them that closing shops is not fair,” he said.

Anisi talked to the police about the problems shop owners face when closing their stores.

“They told me to keep big heart gifts off my window and avoid promoting the occasion,” he said.

He then moved the big heart gifts to appease the police.

“It is all a matter of compromise here. People will keep buying what they need. I keep selling and the police are happy, too,” he said.

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