Brunei adopts Sharia law despite international criticism
Published time: April 30, 2014 04:13
Brunei is to become the first East Asian country to adopt Sharia law as the sultan confirmed the Islamic penal code on Wednesday. The move sparks broad concern over the rights of women and minorities.
Sharia law will be implemented nationwide starting Thursday.
“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,” Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said in a speech, AFP reports.
The implementation of Sharia law would mean that residents will face conviction by Islamic courts for their crimes. Most of the laws will apply to non-Muslims, as well. The first phase, which goes into effect on Thursday, will give offenders fines or jail time for acts ranging from pregnancy outside marriage, propagating other religions, or failure to perform Friday prayers. A second phase will go into effect after a year, punishing those who steal or consume alcohol with whipping and amputations. The final stage will take effect in two years, and will use the death penalty – possibly by stoning – for crimes like adultery, sodomy, or insulting the Koran or the Prophet Mohammed.
The implementation of the Sharia law sparks concerns over the rights of minorities as about 20 percent of Brunei residents are non-Muslim, most of whom follow Buddhist, Christian, and indigenous belief systems. Chinese make up the largest ethnic minority at 10 percent of the population, while the majority ethnic Malays make up 65 percent. Brunei is also home to 30,000 mostly Roman Catholic Filipino migrant workers and many Western oil workers, according to Reuters.