It often seems like some countries like Saudi Arabia are the first to respond to any slight or barrier to Islam in other countries, but routinely deny such accommodations for other religions in their own country. The latest such hypocrisy was shown by the Sultan and Muslim clerics in Brunei after the country criminalized celebrating Christmas. Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah previously was denounced for introducing the medieval Sharia law system to his kingdom. He has now ordered that anyone found illegally celebrating Christmas could face a five year jail sentence. While Bolkiah cuts the same comical figure of Burgermeister Meisterburger, he is not a bit comical for those who reject Islamic extremism.
Even wearing a Santa hat can now put you into jail for five years on Borneo. Non-Muslims can celebrate the holiday but only in their own communities. However, Muslims will be jailed for participating in any way in such celebrations. The Ministry of Religious Affairs explained “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.” It is interesting that these religious fanatics would view Islam as so fragile that joining in a celebration of another faith would be viewed as such a threat.
The clerics warned that “During Christmas celebrations, Muslims following that religion’s acts – such as using their religious symbols like cross, lighting candles, making Christmas trees and singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings, using signs praising the religion, putting up decorations or creating sounds and doing anything that amounts to respecting their religion – are against Islamic faith.” They added “Some may think that it is a frivolous matter and should not be brought up as an issue. But as Muslims and as a Zikir Nation, we must keep it (following other religions’ celebrations) away as it could affect our Islamic faith.” Well, most do not consider such acts to be frivolous but signs of tolerance and respect for other religions.
This year, a boycott was launched over the purchase of the famed Beverly Hills hotel by the Sultan who is widely viewed as anti-homosexual and a religious extremist.
Of course, he could always appeal to his citizens in the same way as his Burgermeister counterpart:
It’s a difficult responsibility
That you accept from the number-one lawmaker, me . . .
All the tin soldiers — melt them down
Wash the face of every clown
Each bouncing ball — deflate it
No, I don’t want to debate it!
The ballerinas who pirouette
Arrest their musical toes
Outlaw the dolls and sink the boats!
They bring me only woes!