Brunei’s all-powerful Sultan has ordered his citizens to stop criticizing his plan to institute a harsh version of Sharia law, telling them they’ll be sorry once the law is implemented.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiam — one of the world’s richest men — presides over the tranquil, oil-rich kingdom neighboring Malaysia with a population of 400,000.
He announced last October that Brunei would gradually institute Sharia law punishments such as flogging, severing limbs and death by stoning beginning April 1.
Criticizing the sultan is forbidden, but the citizens of Brunei have still expressed their displeasure with Sharia law over social media, Agence France Presse reported.
That didn’t sit well with Hassanal.
"They cannot be allowed to continue committing these insults, but if there are elements which allow them to be brought to court, then the first phase of implementing the Syariah Penal Code Order in April will be very relevant to them," he said, according to a copy of his speech published by state media.
ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Anti-social media: Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiam made vague threats about criticizing his plan to institute sharia law.
AFP noted that the sultan didn’t explain how social media users could be prosecuted under Islamic law.
Examples of Sharia punishments include stoning for adultery and severing of limbs for theft. The Taliban often uses Sharia law to justify brutality in areas it controls.
The strict religious code doesn’t appeal to everyone in Brunei — so much so they dared to express their displeasure.
"It is truly frightening to think that we might potentially be stoned to death for being lovers, that we may be fined for being of a different sexual orientation, and that what we wear will be regulated," one recent post online read, according to AFP.
Hassanal hasn’t backed down, and said his Islamic monarchy is “a firewall” against the moral turpitude of globalization.
Not surprisingly, the sultan — who is worth $20 billion, according to Forbes — has singled out the internet as one of the biggest threats facing Brunei.