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Sultan but no Santa in Brunei this Christmas

Sultan's Clauses Not Santa as Christmas is Repressed in Brunei

Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Oil-rich Brunei has banned public celebrations of Christmas, including sending festive greetings and the wearing of Santa Claus hats.

Muslims seen celebrating Christmas and non-Muslims found to be organising celebrations could face up to five years jail.

However the country's non-Muslims, who comprise 32 per cent of the 420,000 population, can celebrate Christmas in their own communities on the condition that the celebrations are not disclosed to Muslims.

Imams have told followers in the tiny Borneo nation to follow a government edict last year banning celebrations that could lead Muslims astray and damage their faith, according to the Borneo Bulletin.

"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," the Ministry of Religious Affairs said in a statement explaining the edict that was published in the Brunei Times.

The statement said non-Muslims disclosing or displaying Christmas celebrations violated the penal code which prohibits propagating religion other than Islam to a Muslim.

The Borneo Bulletin quotes imams saying in a Friday sermon that lighting candles, putting up Christmas trees, singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings and putting up decorations are against the religious faith.

"Some may think that it is a frivolous matter and should not be brought up as an issue," the imams are quoted as saying.

"But as Muslims . . . we must keep it (following other religions' celebrations) away as it could affect our Islamic faith," they said.

Before Christmas last year officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs visited businesses and asked owners to remove Christmas decorations and to stop staff wearing Santa Claus hats and clothes.

Brunei's rulers do not enforce the harsh Islamic orthodoxies of countries like Saudi Arabia.

There are no sanctions for women who do not wear headscarfs and while the sale and public consumption of alcohol is banned, foreigners are allowed to import and drink it behind closed doors.

But Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the world's richest men, last year ordered the introduction of sharia, the strict legal code based on the injunctions of the Koran, prompting boycotts and protests at hotels he owns in the United Kingdom and the United States, including the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The laws, which include amputation of hands and feet for theft and whipping for adultery, were to be phased in over three years.

But their introduction appears to have been delayed without public explanation, according to foreign observers in Brunei.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


The muslims living in northern countries have problems with the artic light and want their hosts to fix it, (easy done,eh). No way they would accept a ban of ramadan instead they want habitants downplay Christmas because of violation of their religion. I don't get it. Maybe time to ban all religions (accept Buddhism, my opinion).

Posted by A Joe on December 22, 2015 09:56

Editor Comment:

Banning radicals would be wiser.


Accept should be except of course.

Posted by A Joe on December 22, 2015 09:58


Not too long and they ban hunger games & Star Wars 7, as the movies propagate a female lead action hero as saviour of the free universe and a victorious(!) female rebell general. Could be infecting the Islamic way of believe in Brunei more then fat santa. The woman even flies a space ship and wields a blue laser sword... Nothing good can come from movies like that. */irony off*

What a striking difference to the culture in Thailand of embracing vielfalt.

But then this is typical for undemocratic, regressing rulers and nowadays Islam is a more then willing and helpful tool to them. Anyone remember the good ol' days in the London clubs?

On a personal note, I can understand locking people up for five years for playing Last Christmas ...

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all!

Posted by Lena on December 22, 2015 11:05

Editor Comment:

Brunei was a gentler, more moderate place when I spent some time there almost 10 years ago. Radicals are the problem.


Good point, A Joe.

Intolerance justified by various religious mantras has been the root of horrific acts throughout history.

I cannot think of any major religion not guilty of such acts at some stage in time.

Live and let live.

Posted by Herbert on December 22, 2015 11:31


Lena. I agree that radicals should be tamed. But with disgrace a lot of European countries leaders denies there own culture. For example some artist are never played. I give you the best tenor ever. Enjoy and merry Christmas.

Posted by A Joe on December 22, 2015 11:52


Tolerance is alive and well but not when Christians are in the monority eh ?
Merry Christmas to you too Sultan !

Posted by LES on December 22, 2015 19:03


How fickle are these believers that they can't be allowed to see someone celebrating Christmas for fear that they may turn ?!? Have a little faith !!!

Posted by James on December 22, 2015 20:38

Editor Comment:

I am sure there will be plenty of retail to admire from afar.


So by this logic then the Muslim Call to Prayer must be banned as well as that might affect the religious beliefs of the 30+% non Muslims in Brunei.


No surprise there then. As per a recent quote I read "No atheist ever started a war over their beliefs"

Everyone should exhibit tolerance no matter what they believe in - if that were the case then the world would be a much friendlier and happier place to live in - which is what we all want.

Posted by Discover Thainess on December 22, 2015 22:18


Saw a tv movie-report of the life style of that sultan and his family. Disgusting.

Posted by Kurt on December 23, 2015 12:03


I guess all good Muslims should now be heading to Brunei for their moral protection.

Posted by Laurie Howells on December 24, 2015 17:09

Editor Comment:

You should be somewhere in Canberra, perhaps in Tony Abbott's office, Laurie, if the theory that people of like mind should congregate together holds true. Fortunately, most Muslims are more open-minded


Ed, fortunately, most other readers would have seen the sarcasm, in my comment, not all are so quick to be a grouch. mmm, now what was the name of that movie, oh yes "Grouchy Old Men," but in this case "Grouchy Old Man," and I do use the "accepted" definition of grouch. Have a very pleasant Christmas... Every one.

Posted by Laurie Howells on December 24, 2015 18:13


Don't know how Grumpy" became "Grouchy".

Posted by Laurie Howells on December 24, 2015 18:29

Wednesday October 5, 2022
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