The sultan of Brunei has rejected foreign criticism of the country’s impending introduction of strict Islamic Sharia law, saying it is not a backwards step.
UK Daily Mail Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said all races should unite under Sharia law and that the new penal code was a ‘great achievement’ for the small Southeast Asian nation. Starting in April, Brunei will begin implementing a version of Sharia that allows for penalties such as amputation for theft and stoning for adultery.
Under certain circumstances, punishments can be applied to non-Muslim residents, according to those who have seen the law.
Public criticism of the government is extremely rare in the country, but some citizens have turned to the Internet to express alarm at the law. Around one-third of Brunei’s 440,000 people are non-Muslims, mostly Christian or Buddhist Chinese.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah told legislators Thursday that all races should unite and support the laws, which he said were a ‘great achievement for the country, and not a backward or old-fashioned step.’