Brunei Sharia Law Going Into Effect


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Hassanal Bolkiah, 67, The Sultan of Brunei, plans to begin enforcing Sharia law for Muslims and non-Muslims on Thursday, despite concerns from human rights campaigners and international watchdog groups. In the Arabic-speaking world, Sharia, also known as Islāmī qānūn, means the moral code and religious law of a prophetic religion.

Sharia deals with many of the same topics addressed by secular law, including politics, crime and economics, as well as with personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, general etiquette and fasting. Punishments include amputation, beheading, flogging, stoning, blinding, severing of the spinal cord, burying alive, hanging, burning alive and crucifixion.

Bolkiah warned that anyone who took to social media to protest his mandate might be prosecuted. “It is because of our need that Allah the Almighty, in all his generosity, has created laws for us, so that we can utilize them to obtain justice,” the Sultan commented. It would seem a Tweet might warrant some medium-strength flogging in Brunei under the impending the new laws.

During a speech yesterday, Bolkiah explained how he would introduce Sharia in three phases - “Today I place my faith in, and am grateful to Allah the almighty, to announce that tomorrow, Thursday, May 1, 2014, will see the enforcement of sharia law phase one, to be followed by the other phases.” The phases are likely to begin with fines and jail sentences, and could graduate to crucifixion.

Bolkiah, said to be worth roughly $20 billion, is likely going to see a problem with his ties to the U.K. The Sultan presently pays for a garrison of 1,000 British soldiers known as the Royal Gurkha Rifles, who are stationed in the Southeast Asian country. Great Britain's Ministry of Defense had asked authorities in Brunei to clarify whether the new laws would have any impact on the their troops. The outcome of that communication has yet to be made public.

Commenting on the Sultan's new edict, Anicée Van Engeland, a lecturer in law at SOAS, University of London stated, “When rulers do this, it is usually for domestic political reasons." Bolkiah said he wished to reduce the "challenges" of globalization, mainly the use of the internet.

Image via Wikimedia Commons