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Brunei Sultan pushes ahead with syariah code, to be introduced on May 1 after delay

Published on Apr 30, 2014 3:43 PM
Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah delivers a speech during the official ceremony of the implementation of syariah law in Bandar Seri Begawan on April 30, 2014. The Sultan of Brunei announced on April 30 that a controversial new penal code featuring tough Islamic criminal punishments would be phased in beginning on May 1. -- PHOTO: AFP 

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AFP) - The Sultan of oil-rich Brunei announced that tough Islamic criminal punishments would be introduced on Thursday, pushing ahead with plans that have sparked rare domestic criticism of the fabulously wealthy ruler and international condemnation.

"With faith and gratitude to Allah the almighty, I declare that tomorrow, Thursday May 1, 2014, will see the enforcement of syariah law phase one, to be followed by the other phases," the absolute monarch said in a royal decree on Wednesday.

Plans for the sharia penalties - which will eventually include flogging, severing of limbs and death by stoning - triggered condemnation on social media sites in the tiny, sleepy sultanate earlier this year.

Confusion has swirled around implementation following the unexplained postponement of an expected April 22 start date that raised questions over whether the Muslim monarch was hesitating.

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