Sultan Hassanal Bolkiahhe, 67, announced last year that he wanted to introduce a full sharia system and warned critics who took to social media that they could be prosecuted. “It is because of our need that Allah the Almighty, in all his generosity, has created laws for us, so that we can utilise them to obtain justice,” he said at the time.
The decision sparked condemnation from activists, and the leaders of other religions in Brunei expressed concern that they could suffer. The spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights said he was “deeply concerned” about the move.
But the thrice-married sultan has ignored such concerns and pressed ahead with his plans. In speech on Wednesday, he said the first part of a three-phase plan to introduce Islamic law would begin on Thursday.
“Today I place my faith in, and am grateful to Allah the almighty, to announce that tomorrow, Thursday, 1 May, 2014, will see the enforcement of sharia law phase one, to be followed by the other phases,” he said, according to the AFP news agency.
Brunei is two thirds Muslim and has long implemented some sharia, mainly for civil matters such as marriage. But last year the sultan, who is said to be worth £24 billion and lives in a 1,788-room palace, said he wanted to introduce full sharia to guard against the “challenges” of globalisation, including the impact of the Internet.
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