BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei, April 30 (UPI) -- Brunei became the first East Asian nation to implement Sharia law Wednesday, with enforcement of first phase of the Islamic penal code beginning on May 1.
"I place my faith in and am grateful to Allah the almighty to announce that tomorrow, Thursday May 1, 2014, will see the enforcement of Sharia law phase one, to be followed by the other phases," announced Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. "Theory states that Allah's law is cruel and unfair but Allah himself has said that his law is indeed fair."
The first phase of the law will make offenses such as indecent behavior, skipping Friday prayer, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies punishable by fines and jail terms. The second phase will be enacted later this year and will add punishments like amputation for stealing and flogging for consuming alcohol. The third phase will be enacted late next year and will include stoning for offenses of sodomy or adultery.
The sultan, one of the richest men in the world, is facing international backlash for the implementation of the law. He owns the high-end chain of hotels as part of the Dorchester Collection that is present in Europe and the U.S. and is now being boycotted by many who protest the law.
I won't be visiting the Hotel Bel-Air or the Beverly Hills Hotel until this is resolved. http://t.co/RqQrLBK4EJ— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 22, 2014
The UN said this month they were "deeply concerned" with the ruler's decision to implement the penal code, especially since it is highly biased against women who are more likely to get punished for crimes involving sex.