By Staff writer
Muslim ruler says Christians are not allowed to put up a Christmas tree, sing religious songs or send Christmas greetings
Brunei residents face up to five years in jail if they celebrate Christmas, the ruler of the Islamic country has warned.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah appears to have enforced the ban in a bid to prevent the oil-rich country’s 420,000 Muslims, which make up about 65 percent of the population, from being exposed to ‘infidel’ beliefs.
“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,” a Ministry of Religious Affairs statement said, according to the Borneo Bulletin.
Non-Muslims are allowed to celebrate the holiday behind closed doors if they do not put up a Christmas tree, sing religious songs or send Christmas greetings, the daily newspaper said.
“Some may think that it is a frivolous matter and should not be brought up as an issue. But as Muslims … we must keep it [non-Islamic celebrations] away as it could affect our Islamic faith,” Brunei imams are quoted as saying.
The small Asian nation introduced Sharia law in April last year. It is being enforced in stages, with offences including pregnancy outside of marriage, failure to perform Friday prayers, propagating other religions, consumption of alcohol, adultery and sodomy.
Penalties include death by stoning.
The UAE has a Sharia legal system, but maintains religious tolerance throughout it's society. The question is if religious tolerance part of the Islamic teachings, and if so, then why can't Muslims live side by side with non-Muslims and allow people to openly follow their religious practices. The UAE is the role model for all Muslim countries.