US actor George Clooney calls for a boycott of nine hotels owned by the Sultan. For the government, the ban is to "educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race". In Brunei, Sunni Islam is "protected" by numerous legal provisions. The public celebrations of Christmas, including decorations and songs, was banned in 2015.
Bandar Seri Begawan (AsiaNews) – British singer Elton John has joined US actor George Clooney in calling for a boycott of nine Brunei-owned hotels over the sultanate’s new death-penalty laws for gay sex and adultery.
As the list of politicians and celebrities supporting a boycott grows, Brunei has defended its right to apply new Islamic laws, which starting from the day after tomorrow include stoning anyone found guilty of such crimes.
Clooney called for a boycott last week. The hotels the actor cited are located in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and the United States. They include the exclusive Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.
About 58.5 per cent of Brunei’s 400,000 people are Muslim. In addition to punishing sodomy and adultery with death by stoning, the new sharia laws include amputating hands and feet for theft.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement noting that "The (Sharia) law, apart from criminalising and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race".
Brunei enforces strictly Islamic rules, more than neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia, other Southeast Asian countries with a Muslim majority population. The sale of alcohol is banned in the sultanate, as is proselytising by other religions.
There are no elections in the country and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (pictured), 72, is the second longest lasting monarch in the world (51 years).
The state religion, the Shafi‘i Sunni Islam, is "protected" by numerous legal provisions. Spreading a religion other than Islam is a crime punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to US$ 15,000 or both.
Any act that "tends to obscure the image of Islam" constitutes a crime. It is also illegal to criticise sharia, imposed in 2014.
The public celebration of Christmas, including decorations and songs, was banned in 2015 because they could damage the "aqidah (creed) of the Muslim community".
All religious groups are required by law to register and provide detailed information about their organisation, activities, members and any other information requested by the authorities.
The government has banned religions such as Ahmadiyya Islam, al-Arqam (an Islamic sect), the Baha'i faith and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The state encourages conversions to Shafi'i Islam by providing converts with money, homes, generators, water pumps or funding for the pilgrimage to Makkah.