Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei is making international headlines after the state announced a ban on Christmas.
The ban was declared on the internationally celebrated Christian holiday because the religious affairs ministry thinks publicly marking non-Islamic rituals or festivities could be seen as propagations of religions other than Islam.
Around 20 per cent of Brunei’s residents comprise of non-Muslims, including sizeable Buddhist and Christian communities.
The statement by Brunei Government reads in part:
‘Believers of other religions that live under the rule of an Islamic country – according to Islam – may practice their religion or celebrate their religious festivities among their community, with the condition that the celebrations are not disclosed or displayed publicly to Muslims,‘
‘Muslims should be careful not to follow celebrations such as these that are not in any way related to Islam… and could unknowingly damage the faith of Muslims.’
The statement also noted that businesses that publicly displayed Christmas decorations would be asked totake them down– to which the businesses had given their ‘full cooperation’ in the matter.
The penalty for celebrating Christmas in the small but prosperous nation is a jail term of up to 5-years.