Brunei implements Sharia: Non-Muslim citizens forbidden to drink in public even when abroad

casablanca“‘It is not the local authorities’ responsibility to go to every other country in the hope of keeping tabs of these misconducts committed by citizens and permanent residents of Brunei’, essentially clarifying that those who have committed such crimes will be charged should a complaint be made against them by the nation’s citizens or permanent residents for their public alcohol consumption in countries outside of Brunei.” So if you’re a Bruneian in Adelaide or Manila and it’s hot day and you’d like to toss back a couple of cold ones, just make sure there aren’t any other Bruneians around. This illustrates how close the congruence is between Sharia and life in totalitarian states, in which people grab small joys furtively, always looking over their shoulder to make sure no informants are around.

“Non-Muslim Bruneians can’t drink in public abroad,” from the Borneo Bulletin, April 17 (thanks to JW):

ALCOHOL consumption in the public by non-Muslim citizens and/or permanent residents during their time abroad would be punishable under the Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction of the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013, which will be implemented in Brunei on April 22. This was made clear by the panel of speakers at the Syariah Briefing conducted especially for the International Students Association in Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) yesterday.

However, it was said that for crimes that fall under the Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction in Chapter 184 of the Syariah Penal Code of 2013, “It is not the local authorities’ responsibility to go to every other country in the hope of keeping tabs of these misconducts committed by citizens and permanent residents of Brunei”, essentially clarifying that those who have committed such crimes will be charged should a complaint be made against them by the nation’s citizens or permanent residents for their public alcohol consumption in countries outside of Brunei.

In relation to that, it was clarified at the briefing that private alcohol consumption among non-Muslims is not a crime, be it in or out of the country.

Another most sought after clarification at the briefing was that of adultery, and what circumstances would qualify for the act to be fully punishable under the penal code. In the briefing, the panel of speakers clarified that circumstantial evidence will not suffice to fully prosecute an individual for the crime of adultery, thus giving an exemplary scenario in which four male witnesses would be present to testify against the adulterers. “Unless these four male witnesses can provide proof of penetration, the accused individuals will not be charged with adultery,” they said.

This is based on Qur’an 24:4 and 24:13, which specifies that there must be four witnesses to establish adultery.

“However, they will be charged under other chapters of the Syariah Penal Code, for the crimes they commit that are evident (in this scenario, performing sexual acts, close proximity and others).”

An expatriate raised a question in regard to that section of the briefing for a clarification of whether or not performing sexual acts outside marriage for non-Muslims would be punishable should they be caught. In response, the speakers assured that this particular code only applies if both or either one of the individuals committing the act is a Muslim.

One particular scholar raised a question for what qualifies as indecent clothing for non-Muslims in the country, to which the speakers responded that there need to be an understanding of whether or not that particular clothing is suitable to be worn in the public at certain places, adding that, “it would qualify only if it tarnishes the image of Islam”, and it will be “subject to full investigation”.

As there were several questions raised for clarifications, one that went unanswered until further development of the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013, was the question of whether the publication of intimate photos or those showing close proximity of married couples on social networking websites would be deemed illegal under the upcoming law. A woman had addressed the matter saying that it does not portray a crime as it involves a married couple.

The panel assured that although this has not been mentioned under the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013, the nation’s Civil Law involving defamation or abuse of the Internet would still be applicable, which would then also be “subject to further investigations”.