Oil-rich Hypocritical Brunei has banned public celebrations of Christmas, including sending festive greetings and the wearing of Santa Claus hats.
Muslims seen celebrating Christmas and non-Muslims found to be organising celebrations could face up to five years jail.
However the country's non-Muslims, who comprise 32 per cent of the 420,000 population, can celebrate Christmas in their own communities on the condition that the celebrations are not disclosed to Muslims.
Imams have told followers in the tiny Borneo nation to follow a government edict last year banning celebrations that could lead Muslims astray and damage their faith, according to the Borneo Bulletin.
"These enforcement measures are … intended to control the act of celebrating Christmas excessively and openly, which could damage the aqidah (beliefs) of the Muslim community," the Ministry of Religious Affairs said in a statement explaining the edict that was published in the Brunei Times.
The statement said non-Muslims disclosing or displaying Christmas celebrations violated the penal code which prohibits propagating religion other than Islam to a Muslim.
The Borneo Bulletin quotes imams saying in a Friday sermon that lighting candles, putting up Christmas trees, singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings and putting up decorations are against the religious faith.
"Some may think that it is a frivolous matter and should not be brought up as an issue," the imams are quoted as saying.
"But as Muslims … we must keep it (following other religions' celebrations) away as it could affect our Islamic faith," they said.
Before Christmas last year officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs visited businesses and asked owners to remove Christmas decorations and to stop staff wearing Santa Claus hats and clothes.
Brunei's rulers do not enforce the harsh Islamic orthodoxies of countries like Saudi Arabia.
There are no sanctions for women who do not wear headscarfs and while the sale and public consumption of alcohol is banned, foreigners are allowed to import and drink it behind closed doors.
But Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the world's richest men, last year ordered the introduction of sharia, the strict legal code based on the injunctions of the Koran, prompting boycotts and protests at hotels he owns in the United Kingdom and the United States, including the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The laws, which include amputation of hands and feet for theft and whipping for adultery, were to be phased in over three years.
But their introduction appears to have been delayed without public explanation, according to foreign observers in Brunei.
Sex, lies and Sharia Law: The secret life of the Sultan of BruneiReplyDelete
HE’S worth an estimated $25 billion (AUS), lives in a 1700-bed palace, indulges himself in western luxuries and has a reputation for enjoying beautiful women.
In a story on 60 Minutes, viewers saw how the Sultan of Brunei lives a very extravagant but somewhat moderate Muslim life.
But last year the Sultan introduced Sharia Law - where thieves would have their hands cut off and adulterers and homosexuals would be stoned to death. It applies to everyone living in Brunei except the Sultan and his Royal family.
While parts of the ancient Islamic law have been introduced in stages, Brunei is now on the verge of adopting public stoning.
60 Minutes’ Alison Langdontravelled through the small Asian nation undercover to see how the strict regime was affecting citizens and spoke to a woman who was once part of the Sultan’s harem revealing the hypocrisy of the current state of affairs.
“We’ve been trying for six months to get access and permission to visit Brunei to speak to the Sultan and that was denied, so in the end we decided to go in as tourists,” Langdon told news.com.au ahead of the program.
What they found, she explained, was a beautiful but repressed country where its citizens never criticise the royal family – mainly because it's a crime – and seem to be unaware of the Sultan and his playboy brother, Prince Jefri’s debauchery.
Both brothers have a reputation for indulging in beautiful women.
Vanity Fair dubbed them the “constant companions in hedonism” in 2011 for their lavish lifestyles and penchant for collecting women like children collect toys.
And Prince Jefri is on the outer, accused of siphoning $19.2 billion (AUS) from the country’s coffers.
According to Jillian Lauren, the American woman who spoke to 60 Minutes about her year in Prince Jefri and the Sultan’s harem, the pair indulged a lot – and they didn’t care how old the girls were.
“She (Lauren) was in the harem when she was 18 and when she was there there were between 30 to 40 other girls, some as young as 15,” Ms Langdon said. “She spent a year there. She received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts, jewerlly and clothing. She was very well looked after but that’s because she caught the eye of the Sultan’s younger brother Prince Jefri.
“She was his play thing. They had sex hundreds of times and then Prince Jefri gave her as a gift to the Sultan and she goes into great detail (about) the sexual activity she got up to with the sultan.”