Brunei’s strict Sharia laws bring bad news for Christians, says OD expert
The next set of Sharia laws which came into effect in Brunei on 3rd April, can spell bad news for Christian converts who will have to go into deeper hiding, an Open Doors’ analyst has recently shared with us.
Brunei, a small sultanate on the southeast Asian island of Borneo, is an absolute monarchy where the Sultan, 72-year-old Hassanal Bolkiah, has been encouraging Islamization of the country.
The new laws prescribe the death penalty for a variety of offenses, including adultery, robbery, rape, sodomy and insulting the Prophet Muhammad, and are part of the third phase of implementation of the Sharia Penal Code which was introduced in 2014.
The government has faced much international criticism and opposition by rights groups, which probably explains the last-minute announcement of the third stage of implementation only 10 days ago, said Tomas Muller, a persecution analyst for Open Doors’ World Watch Research unit.
On Monday, 1 April, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bauchelet, urged Brunei to reconsider implementing the “cruel and inhuman” laws, reported Al Jazeera.
“Any religion-based legislation must not violate human rights, including the rights of those belonging to the majority religion as well as of religious minorities and non-believers,” Bauchelet said in a statement, warning the new laws could lead to violence and discrimination.
Brunei Christians already face discrimination as conversion is considered illegal. Importing of Bibles and public celebrations of Christmas have been banned since 2015. Pray for believers to remain steadfast in their faith.
Believers from a Muslim background are more likely to be affected by this new development. They may be targeted and will have to be more careful with whom they share the Gospel.
Social norms and values will change – depending on what exactly will be considered as ‘anti-Islam’ – please pray for discernment for those in leadership and positions of power.