Valentine's Day brings love and some worry in Iraq holy city

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Valentine's Day brings love and some worry in Iraq holy city

In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, women shop for Valentine's Day gifts in Najaf, Iraq. In recent years, Valentine's in Najaf has emerged as a field of contention. It pitted revelers who see in it harmless fun and personal freedom advocates against conservatives who view it as sacrilege--a foreign celebration that has no place in a holy city like Najaf. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, people shop for Valentine's Day gifts in Najaf, Iraq. In recent years, Valentine's in Najaf has emerged as a field of contention. It pitted revelers who see in it harmless fun and personal freedom advocates against conservatives who view it as sacrilege--a foreign celebration that has no place in a holy city like Najaf. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, people walk toward the holy shrine of Imam Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and the first Imam of the Shiites, in Najaf, Iraq. In recent years, Valentine's in Najaf has emerged as a field of contention. It pitted revelers who see in it harmless fun and personal freedom advocates against conservatives who view it as sacrilege--a foreign celebration that has no place in a holy city like Najaf. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, people shop for Valentine's Day gifts in Najaf, Iraq. In recent years, Valentine's in Najaf has emerged as a field of contention. It pitted revelers who see in it harmless fun and personal freedom advocates against conservatives who view it as sacrilege--a foreign celebration that has no place in a holy city like Najaf. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, Valentine's Day gifts shop owner Hasanain al-Rufaye works in his shop in Najaf, Iraq. Valentine's Days past could be fraught with tensions. One year, an angry crowd burst into his store yelling “Shut it down! Shut it down!” while others shouted “Infidels.” Heart-shaped balloons framing the entrance of the store were popped by the mob. Al-Rufaye was beaten and his clothes torn. Windows were shattered and the teddy bears he sells set ablaze, he said. “It was the most difficult day of my life.” (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

Valentine's Day brings love and some worry in Iraq holy city

In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, women shop for Valentine's Day gifts in Najaf, Iraq. In recent years, Valentine's in Najaf has emerged as a field of contention. It pitted revelers who see in it harmless fun and personal freedom advocates against conservatives who view it as sacrilege--a foreign celebration that has no place in a holy city like Najaf. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, people shop for Valentine's Day gifts in Najaf, Iraq. In recent years, Valentine's in Najaf has emerged as a field of contention. It pitted revelers who see in it harmless fun and personal freedom advocates against conservatives who view it as sacrilege--a foreign celebration that has no place in a holy city like Najaf. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, people walk toward the holy shrine of Imam Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and the first Imam of the Shiites, in Najaf, Iraq. In recent years, Valentine's in Najaf has emerged as a field of contention. It pitted revelers who see in it harmless fun and personal freedom advocates against conservatives who view it as sacrilege--a foreign celebration that has no place in a holy city like Najaf. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, people shop for Valentine's Day gifts in Najaf, Iraq. In recent years, Valentine's in Najaf has emerged as a field of contention. It pitted revelers who see in it harmless fun and personal freedom advocates against conservatives who view it as sacrilege--a foreign celebration that has no place in a holy city like Najaf. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 photo, Valentine's Day gifts shop owner Hasanain al-Rufaye works in his shop in Najaf, Iraq. Valentine's Days past could be fraught with tensions. One year, an angry crowd burst into his store yelling “Shut it down! Shut it down!” while others shouted “Infidels.” Heart-shaped balloons framing the entrance of the store were popped by the mob. Al-Rufaye was beaten and his clothes torn. Windows were shattered and the teddy bears he sells set ablaze, he said. “It was the most difficult day of my life.” (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
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