By Esmond Lee
Earlier in April, the rest of the world condemned monarch-ruled Brunei after announcing the introduction of the Sharia penal code that would include penalties such as the severing of limbs and death by stoning.
The tiny but prosperous state on the island of Borneo that is ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, has now made international headlines once again after the state announced a ban on Christmas.
The ban was declared on the internationally celebrated Christian holiday because the religious affairs ministry said that publicly marking non-Islamic rituals or festivities could be seen as propagations of religions other than Islam.
Roughly 20 per cent of Brunei’s residents comprise of non-Muslims, including sizeable Buddhist and Christian communities.
‘Believers of other religions that live under the rule of an Islamic country – according to Islam – may practice their religion or celebrate their religious festivities among their community, with the condition that the celebrations are not disclosed or displayed publicly to Muslims,‘
‘Muslims should be careful not to follow celebrations such as these that are not in any way related to Islam… and could unknowingly damage the faith of Muslims.‘ Said the government of Brunei in a statement.
The statement also noted that businesses that publicly displayed Christmas decorations would be asked to take them down– to which the businesses had given their ‘full cooperation’ in the matter.
The penalty for celebrating Christmas in Brunei is punishable with a jail term of up to 5-years.
Brunei’s latest decision to ban Christmas officially will no doubt, attract more international criticism- following the harsh Sharia penal code that was announced to be implemented in the state in April by Brunei’s 68-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
So what is your take on the issue? Let us know!