Brunei, a small country (about 6000 square km) on the north coast of Borneo, is the fifth richest country in the world—from oil, of course. It’s also an “Islamic republic,” and up to now hasn’t been nearly as oppressive as Muslim countries in the Middle East about issues like women’s rights.
That’s just changed, for the imposition of new sharia-based laws, drawn up last fall, has just begun. According to articles in the April 30 Guardian and the May 1 Los Angeles Times, the Islamic hammer is about to come down on Brunei’s residents. From the Guardian:
The sultan of oil-rich Brunei has announced the introduction of tough Islamic criminal punishments, pushing ahead with plans that have sparked international condemnation and rare domestic criticism of the fabulously wealthy ruler.
“With faith and gratitude to Allah the almighty, I declare that tomorrow, Thursday 1 May 2014, will see the enforcement of sharia law phase one, to be followed by the other phases,” the absolute monarch said in a royal decree on Wednesday.
Plans for the sharia penalties – which will eventually include flogging, severing of limbs and death by stoning – triggered condemnation on social media sites in the tiny sultanate earlier this year.
Confusion has swirled around implementation of the punishments following the unexplained postponement of an expected 22 April start date that raised questions over whether the Muslim monarch was hesitating.
But 67-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah – one of the world’s wealthiest men – said in his decree that the move was “a must” under Islam, dismissing “never-ending theories” that sharia punishments were cruel in comments clearly aimed at detractors.
“Theory states that Allah’s law is cruel and unfair but Allah himself has said that his law is indeed fair,” he said.
That about sums up the irrationality of Islam (and other faiths as well): Allah said it; I believe it; that settles it.
It’s stunning to me that amputation of limbs and, especially, death by stoning, are punishments that people can implement in the 21st century. Death by stoning is a horrible way to go, for Islamic law prescribes that the stones be large enough to cause injury but not large enough to cause instant death. In other words, you slowly get battered to death. I’ve watched some incidents of stoning on the Internet (you can find them if you look hard enough, but believe me, you’ll get ill), and it’s absolutely horrible.
And what are the crimes that merit stoning? Nothing as nasty as just murder (my emphasis):
The initial phase beginning on Thursday introduces fines or jail terms for offences ranging from indecent behaviour, failure to attend Friday prayers, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
A second phase covering crimes such as theft and robbery is to be implemented later this year, involving more stringent penalties such as severing of limbs and flogging.
Late next year, punishments such as death by stoning for offences including sodomy and adultery will be introduced.
Sodomy? Adultery? And it doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim or not; you’ll get stoned if you’re a practicing gay even if you’re a Christian or an atheist gay. From the L.A. Times:
The law applies to those of all religions in the sultanate, where Muslim Malays constitute a 70% majority of the country’s 400,000 citizens, the news agency reported. Non-Muslim Chinese account for about 15% of Brunei’s population.
Residents of Los Angeles have been picketing the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, in turn the property of the Sultan of Brunei. So far the hotel management has just shrugged its shoulders.
The irony of all this is that Brunei is considered a “developed country” by the United Nations. Wrong. It’s a medievally barbaric country.
What this shows is two things: economic development doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with moral enlightenment, and that Islamic malfeasance isn’t limited to the Middle East. So much for those who say it is. What we’re in line for is a bunch of new floggings, stonings, and amputations—none of which would occur without religion.