As Brunei implements Sharia this month, Christians there are worried that they will be denied basic rights — and they will be, as Islamic law mandates a second-class status for non-Muslims, with Muslims enjoying rights and privileges to which non-Muslims are not privy. But the global “human rights community” is unconcerned about this institutionalized bigotry and discrimination, because to be concerned about it would be “Islamophobic.”
“No baptisms in Brunei by 2016? Concerns raised over shift to new Islamic law system,” from GMA News, April 1:
Baptisms may soon be outlawed in Brunei as the country shifts to a full system of Islamic law—a potential major cause of concern among Catholic and other non-Muslim Filipinos there.
A report on UK’s The Independent said Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Nestor Ochoa recently held a meeting to warn Filipinos of possible implications of the new system.
Brunei hosts 30,000 Filipinos, most of whom are Catholics, and to whom baptisms may be out of reach in two years’ time.
“There will be no baptisms. There is not a lot we can do about it. We will have to wait and see what happens,” Father Robert Leong, a Catholic priest in Brunei, told The Independent.
Under the new rules, propagation of religion other than Islam to a Muslim or atheist is an offense. Brunei Times reported that offenders will pay a fine up to $20,000 or face imprisonment for up to five years or both under Section 209.
A separate report on Brunei Times said legal experts from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office in Brunei have warned private education institutions from committing such offenses.
Under the new law, it is a crime to “expose the child to any ceremony, act of worship or religious activity of any religion beside Islam, or to participate in any activity held for the benefit of other religions.”
Both Muslims and non-Muslims are subject to the law, but certain offenses are only applicable to Muslims.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the 67-year-old leader of Brunei, declared the shift to a full Sharia system in 2013. He said the system acted as a “strong and effective firewall” against challenges posed by globalization.
Bolkiah warned Brunei netizens in March that they may face legal actions for criticizing the legal shift.
“They can no longer be given the liberty to continue with their mockery and if there is a basis for them to be brought to court, then therefore, the first phase of the Syariah (criminal) law this coming April will be relevant to them,” Global Voices Online quoted Bolkiah as saying.
He also cautioned younger generations against the influence of international netizens who wish to “instigate conflict and do not respect their leader or government.” — Rie Takumi/KBK/JL, GMA News