27 May 2014
Experts say Brunei’s harsh penal code could be an attempt by the Sultan to shore up his reputation after a lifetime of lavish living and a bid to attract global investors from the Islamic world.
Calls to prayer pierce a hot sky, pregnant with thunder, on a Friday afternoon in Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan, and hundreds of men pour into the golden-domed Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque.
Since this tiny, independent sultanate on the northern shore of Borneo enacted its new Islamic penal code on May 1, failure to observe these prayers have become punishable with fines or even jail. Other crimes, such as adultery, alcohol consumption and homosexuality, will be punished with flogging, amputation and stoning to death, with those sanctions being phased in over the next two years.
… “Brunei’s introduction of hudud has catalyzed its Muslim-majority neighbors to be more assertive in pursuing the same laws,” says Yang Razali Kassim, senior fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “To be sure, Malaysia has actually been ahead of the curve when it comes to grappling with the push for hudud, especially by the Islamist opposition.”
RSIS / Print
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