Brunei moves to full Sharia
… it is a crime to “expose the child to any ceremony, act of worship or religious activity of any religion beside Islam, or to participate in any activity held for the benefit of other religions.”
No baptisms in Brunei by 2016? Concerns raised over shift to new Islamic law system
Baptisms may soon be outlawed in Brunei as the country shifts to a full system of Islamic law—a potential major cause of concern among Catholic and other non-Muslim Filipinos there.
A report on UK’s The Independent said Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Nestor Ochoa recently held a meeting to warn Filipinos of possible implications of the new system.
Brunei hosts 30,000 Filipinos, most of whom are Catholics, and to whom baptisms may be out of reach in two years’ time.
“There will be no baptisms. There is not a lot we can do about it. We will have to wait and see what happens,” Father Robert Leong, a Catholic priest in Brunei, told The Independent.
Under the new rules, propagation of religion other than Islam to a Muslim or atheist is an offense. Brunei Times reported that offenders will pay a fine up to $20,000 or face imprisonment for up to five years or both under Section 209.
A separate report on Brunei Times said legal experts from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office in Brunei have warned private education institutions from committing such offenses.
Under the new law, it is a crime to “expose the child to any ceremony, act of worship or religious activity of any religion beside Islam, or to participate in any activity held for the benefit of other religions.”
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: A former British colony, Brunei relies heavily on foreign investments, especially in regards to it’s oil resources. The U.K. maintains a force in the country as part of a defense agreement. It will be interesting to see how the Sharia implementation will impact/influence these relationships. As mentioned in the above article, Filipinos residing there are very concerned.
The decision to move Brunei to a system of full Sharia law was made by its Sultan last year, replacing a legal system based on English common law. The move to the Syariah Penal Code is being done in three phases. The planned approach includes moves to silence critics. The Sultan has warned against questioning the move.
From a host of past statements, it appears the Sultan finds western influences to be an increasing threat to stability in his country, as well as his control. Since a suppressed revolt in 1962, the Sultan has enjoyed full executive authority over the country – effectively martial law.
The country can trace it’s Islamic foundation to around the 15th century and it’s sultans were responsible for spreading Islam from Borneo to the Phillipines. Muslims make up approximately two-thirds of Brunei’s population and the application of Sharia for most civil matters has been well established.