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Brunei to outlaw baptisms and other sacraments as nation adopts Sharia law
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The small, oil-rich nation of Brunei will shortly introduce Sharia law to its people, a move that may prove unpopular, at least with some. The international community has already warned that Sharia law is incompatible with international law.
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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sharia law will soon be introduced in Brunei, and its introduction will bring sweeping changes for many, including an estimated 30,000 Filipinos and people of other religions. Those changes could result in human rights violations and the persecution of minority groups, as well as all women.
Sharia law is regarded as strict and is based on fundamentalist interpretation of the Koranic scriptures. The law severely restricts the activities of women, and doles out severe punishments to those who break the laws. It is intolerant of other religious persuasions, which can lead to forced conversations or even harsh penalization of those who subscribe to other religions including Christianity.
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Merely attempting to promote the faith could carry a punishment of five years in prison and a $20,000 fine. With so many Catholics in the country, including 30,000 Filipinos, someone will run afoul of the law.
Baptisms will also be banned.
Schools will only be allowed to teach Islam. No other religion will be discussed and exposing children to other religions can result in harsh penalties.
Sharia law also allows for stoning of those accused of adultery, as well as forced amputations for thieves and other offenders.
The law will be a challenge because the Sultan of Brunei as well as the royal family and others of the upper class, who have gained incredible wealth from oil deals with the West, enjoy lavish lifestyles that includes alcohol-fueled parties and gambling. These will have to be curtailed and kept well-behind closed doors.
Christians will likely be driven underground.
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah has asked the international community to respect his country's decision to adopt Sharia law, saying the dictates are a special guidance from Allah.
Anyone who criticizes the law could be arrested.
Southeast Asia remains one of the world's most factionalized regions, rich in resources, but supporting poor populations. Christianity is pitted against Islam and the atheism of Communist regimes. Hinduism and Buddhism are prevalent. These religious differences commonly exacerbate political and cultural differences making it a source of wonderment that the region is not embroiled in even more strife.
However, as Islam continues its aggressive and intolerant march across Asia, conflict is virtually assured. For the thousands of Christian residents of Brunei, banned from baptisms and the propagation of their faith, the battle already seems lost.
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