22 October 2016
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    » 10/22/2013, 00.00


    The Sultanate of Brunei to introduce Sharia-based rules

    Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's policy of 'Islamisation' continues. Within six months, rules such as stoning for adultery and amputation for thieves will come into force. The new Penal Code will apply only to Muslims, but residents fear greater repression.

    Bandar Seri Begawan (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Death by stoning for adultery, amputation for thieves, flogging for other crimes such as abortion and alcohol consumption are just some examples of the progressive Islamisation of Brunei, a sultanate located in Southeast Asia. Over the next six months, a new Sharia-based Penal Code will come into force.

    Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (pictured), one of the richest men in the world, made the official announcement this morning, reflecting a more conservative shift in the kingdom. "By the grace of Allah, with the coming into effect of this legislation, our duty to Allah is therefore being fulfilled," the sultan, 67, said in a speech.

    For centuries, the sultan's family has ruled over this small but oil-rich kingdom of 400,000 people. In power since 1967 when he was 21, the sultan in 1996 called for the introduction of Islamic law and punishments.

    Compared to other countries in the region such as Indonesia and Malaysia, a more conservative and fundamentalist form of Islam is already dominant in Brunei. The sale and consumption of alcohol are prohibited in public and the authorities carefully monitor the activities of other religions.

    The new Sharia-based Penal Code would apply only to Muslims, but it is unclear whether it would be applied with extreme rigor or more tolerance.

    The country has a dual legal system with civil courts based on English law and Shariatic courts enforcing family and inheritance laws.

    Brunei is 70 per cent Muslim and ethnically Malay; 15 per cent is made up of non-Muslims of Chinese origin, followed by indigenous peoples and other minority groups.

    Despite reassurances that judges would have wide discretion in applying the code, a substantial part of the population is afraid that Sharia will be enforced in a rigid and inflexible way. Yet, this has not been enough to hold back the sultan's 'Islamisation' push for the country.

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    See also

    06/05/2014 BRUNEI - ISLAM
    Celebrities and business leaders come out against Brunei sultan's decision to introduce Sharia
    Virgin Group founder and owner Richard Branson decides to boycott a hotel chain linked to the sultanate. Human rights groups and associations take aim at the implementation of Islamic law, which is increasingly threatening the religious freedom of non-Muslims.

    09/11/2013 BRUNEI
    Church in Brunei, a young and "missionary” reality
    The Apostolic Vicar Msgr. Cornelius Sim tells of a really small, but " prosperous and lively” reality . The prelate thanked the community of Filipino immigrants who make the life of the Church "active", and his hopes for "new vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life”. To date, together with Bishop there are only three priests to care for 20 thousand people.

    22/12/2015 BRUNEI
    Brunei bans Christmas, violators can get up to five years in prison (and fines)
    Backed by the country’s Islamic leaders, Brunei’s sultan has banned Christian symbols and celebrations. Violators can be fined US$ 20,000 or get up to five years in jail. The authorities fear Christmas might “damage the aqidah (beliefs) of the Muslim community." However, some have dared to challenge the ban on social media with the #MyTreedom hashtag.

    06/12/2005 MALAYSIA
    Malaysia's Islamic fundamentalist party faces ballot box test
    By-election in Penglakan could be the beginning of the end of Islamic party 15-year hold on power.

    29/01/2014 BRUNEI - ISLAM
    Apostolic Vicar: Sharia as a challenge and opportunity for Catholics in Brunei
    Mgr Cornelius Sim calls for a "creative" response to the Sultanate's growing Islamisation. In April, Sharia law will come into force and some inhabitants are afraid of becoming "second class citizens", which is why they are not excluding the possibility of emigration. However, the prelate is unruffled, confident about the future of the Church.

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