The Islamic nation of Brunei in Southeast Asia with its oil rich ruler has officially banned the celebrations of Christmas in public reiterating the Islamic law Shariah.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs defended the move for fear of Muslims being led “astray” by Christmas festivities after many children and adults were seen wearing Santa caps and other outfits. With this, all businesses offering Christmas decorations will have to close and stop any public functions celebrating Christmas.
The public Christmas celebrations constituted “propagations of religions other than Islam,” which is not permitted under the Shariah, said the ministry. “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,” said the statement.
Propagation of Christmas entails non-Muslim religious symbols and it violates the country’s Section 207(1) of the penal code, which is punishable by a fine of up to BND$20,000 ($15,000), a five-year imprisonment, or both, reminded the ministry cracking the whip on all public celebrations in the island country.
Brunei was the first country in Southeast Asia to adopt the Islamic law triggering fears that it might soon become the norm in other Islamic nations in the region such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
The new Shariah law, rolled out in April is applicable to both Muslims and non-Muslims in the country. Whipping and amputations as punishment for theft and alcohol consumption by Muslims are introduced already, while stoning will be introduced next year for offences including adultery, sodomy and insulting the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad.