Sultan of Brunei hits back at foreign criticism of looming implementation of Sharia law that will introduce amputations and stonings as punishments
The sultan of Brunei has rejected foreign criticism of the countries impending introduction of a form of strict Islamic Sharia law, saying it is not a backwards step.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said all races should unite under Sharia law and that the new penal code was a ‘great achievement’ for the small Southeast Asian nation.
Starting in April, Brunei will begin implementing a version of Sharia that allows for penalties such as amputation for theft and stoning for adultery.
Islamic law: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, pictured with his wife at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said all races should unite under Sharia law, and that it is a great achievement for Brunei to implement it
Under limited circumstances, punishments can be applied to non-Muslim residents of the oil-rich country, according to those who have seen the law.
Public criticism of the government is extremely rare in the country, but some citizens have turned to the Internet to express alarm at the law.
Around one-third of Brunei’s 440,000 people are non-Muslims, mostly Christian or Buddhist Chinese.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah told legislators Thursday that all races should unite and support the laws, which he said were a ‘great achievement for the country, and not a backward or old-fashioned step.’
The Sultan, with Prince Charles, is implementing a version of Sharia that allows for penalties such as amputation for theft and stoning for adultery
The plans have alarmed international human rights groups, but Bolkiah said ‘people outside of Brunei should respect us in the same way that we respect them.’
Brunei is a conservative country where alcohol is banned and Muslim courts already govern family affairs.
Officials have said that punishments under the new laws will not be carried out until around 2017.
Muslims in next door Malaysia are subject to a limited form of Islamic law that does not include amputation or capital punishment, as does Aceh province on the western tip of Indonesia.
In general, the interpretation and practice of Islam in Southeast Asia is more liberal than in parts of the Middle East and South Asia.