Sultan of Brunei Sends Letter to European Union Urging ‘Tolerance’ of Death Penalty for Gays

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 09: Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, gives a statement to the media following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Cahncellery on June 9, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The Sultan is on a two-day official trip to Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Sean Gallup/Getty

In a bizarre move, the Sultan of Brunei has written to the European Union to defend his recent decision to impose strict sharia law punishments in his country.

The Sultan has recently imposed harsh new laws in the Kingdom of Brunei, including death by stoning for anyone convicted of homosexuality, as well as amputations, lashes, and execution for other crimes such as theft and adultery.

In his letter, the Sultan urges the EU to reconsider their view of his new laws, stressing that they will require extraordinary evidence in order to be imposed, and so convictions will be rare, according to The Guardian.

The Sultan attempted to justify his brutal new laws by saying, “The penal sentences of hadd – stoning to death and amputation – imposed for offences of theft, robbery, adultery and sodomy, have extremely high evidentiary threshold, requiring no less than two or four men of high moral standing and piety as witnesses, to the exclusion of every form of circumstantial evidence.”

As regards whipping as a punishment, the letter went on to say, “The offender must be clothed, whipping must be with moderate force without lifting his hand over his head, shall not result in the laceration of the skin nor the breaking of bones, and shall not be inflicted on the face, head, stomach, chest or private parts,”

The unusual decision to send the letter, which urges “tolerance, respect and understanding”, comes as MEPs voted last week to condemn the Kingdom’s new sharia laws and punishments. MEPs have also called for asset freezes for key Brunei officials as well as boycotts of Brunei exports such as luxury hotels around the world.

Recently, Oxford University took the decision to reconsider its honorary degree awarded to the Sultan in 1993. The university had previously refused to revoke the award despite condemnation from all across the world of the Sultan’s decision to appease hardliners in his country by imposing the strict sharia punishments.

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