Lessons from the Ottoman Empire's penal code

At a time when Islam's place in the modern world is a matter of global contention, Brunei, a small monarchy in South-east Asia, has offered its two cents. From April 3, the nation, which is predominantly Muslim, had begun adhering to a new penal code with harsh corporal punishments. Accordingly, gay men or adulterers may be stoned to death, and lesbians may be flogged. Thieves will lose first their right hand, and then their left foot.

Understandably, these bits of news brought outcries from the United Nations, human rights organisations and celebrities like George Clooney. In return, the Brunei government dismissed all criticisms, reminding the world that the country is "sovereign" and "like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of laws".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2019, with the headline 'Lessons from the Ottoman Empire's penal code'. Print Edition | Subscribe