Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Brunei has banned public celebrations of Christmas, warning that putting up festive decorations or singing carols could threaten the country's Muslim faith
The Islamic country on the island of Borneo allows non-Muslims to celebrate Christmas, but only within their communities, and they must first alert the authorities. At least 65% of the 420,000-strong population of the oil-rich state are Muslims. The Ministry of Religious Affairs said in a statement: "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." In a warning to Muslims recently, a group of Imams warned that any celebration "not in any way related to Islam” could lead to "‘tasyabbuh’ (imitation) and unknowingly damage the ‘aqidah’ (faith) of Muslims". Brunei is run as an absolutist Muslim monarchy by the Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, 67. In 2014, the sultan caused controversy by introducing Sharia criminal law, which allows for punishments including stoning, whipping and amputation.