A brutal new law in Brunei
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Come from wise being gay and cheating on your spouse and being a thief being lumped together in this really sort of scary way. So as part of this broader push that, the sultanate Brunei has been instituting starting basically in twenty fourteen before then the country's legal code was based on English common law. So they were colonized they only recently got independence in the nineteen eighties since getting independence, they've been kind of shifting more and more toward becoming more Muslim or Islamic in general and then a twenty fourteen the Sultan decided to begin implementing the sharia based penal code, but includes punishments such as amputation and death now before this time. Yeah, these kind of parallel legal systems, right? So for criminal law like if you get caught stealing running a red light that was the common law that was the secular law for family law. So things like divorce adoptions adultery. That was sharia right, but there weren't criminal penalties. Now, they're taking that and they're taking the Islamic sharia law, basically and making the whole kind of legal system in line with their interpretation of sharia and do people actually get stoned to death in Brunei. So they haven't executed anyone in years. It's a pretty high bar for evidence. So you have to have like several witnesses. It'll be Muslim. And you know, we're talking about things like adultery and homosexual relations like that's not necessarily something that's going to be happening with like a whole bunch of witnesses. This is brand new. So we don't know for sure like how can actually play out. Tell me a little bit more about Brunei Brunei is this really teeny tiny little country in southeast Asia, borders, Malaysia, it's over kind of near Indonesia and the Philippines. It's really small though. We're talking a little more than four hundred and fifty thousand people that's smaller than the population of Washington, DC, geography wise, small domestic Delaware, but super rich thanks to huge oil and natural gas exports, and it's all run by one guy. This Soltan who has been in power for over fifty years. His name Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah. He's the one that is driving this push for this new legal code. What's the country's relationship with this Lum? The country is like about two-thirds Muslim Islam as the official religion. It's also in a region that is also Muslims. So you have Malaysia Indonesia nearby. It also has really close ties to some of the more influential countries in the Persian Gulf so Saudi Arabia in particular, the first time that they announced this. This legal code in two thousand fourteen in Brunei King Solomon came for the first time in a really long time and went to Brunei visited so it was kind of this stamp of approval from this like really influential Islamic country in the Middle East. You mentioned that the country's only two thirds Muslim. Do we have any idea? What it's like to be gay in Brunei, whether you're Muslim or not being gay in Brunei, you art what I mean by that is humane be gay. But you're not going to act on it. You're not going to portray yourself as you're not going to say that you're gay. You're not going to be caught doing that. Because even before these laws. It wasn't that LGBT laws were like super liberal at all of a sudden, they're not like it was not. Okay. So as anyone in the country, speaking out about this law, not really because you can't there's complete control over like, the press over free speech communications are monitored by the government. So like, Email communications social media. Like, literally everything you do is watched. Is monitored. And nobody's gonna risk speaking out. I was watching a really great documentary on this recently. And they were interviewing this driver. Who was like, look, you know, I love my country. Able very well. Yes, is very this is the best place ever, which you know, you expect to hear that from a cabdriver, then they asked him like would you want your daughter or your son to be stoned to death for adultery? What if you was to grow up in heaven? Kitschy die for that. That I can't roll punishment is punishment and punishment. It's been recently called the ground. So we have to follow them. Just that disconnected lake. Wow. Okay. You know, maybe that does believe that. Maybe he does it because he's on camera and representing the country. So like, of course, you have to say that. So there's no way to speak out. So that's why people outside of the country are speaking out like Human Rights Watch like celebrities. So you have George Clooney, and Ellen Degeneres and Elton John actor, George Clooney is taking aim at the sultan's twenty billion dollar fortune hauling for a boycott, he writes, we're putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whipped to death their own citizens for being gay. So the Sultan owns a ton of really fancy high class hotels around the world, which ones do we know? Yeah. These are some of the most exclusive in the world Dorchester collection. So basically, like Beverly Hills hotel hotel Bel-Air hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris Dorchester in London, we're talking like swanky high end hotels, and so they celebrities are speaking out and saying we're not going to patronize hotels until you change this law, which is like creatine theory, except that for the average person I can be like, oh, I'm totally boycotting the Beverly Hills hotel that I could never afford to go to anyway. So well, it's good. They're speaking out. It's not exactly the most effective protest. So does that mean, it's not really gonna work? Yeah. I mean, this is definitely not gonna do anything. In back in twenty fourteen. And they I kind of announced this George Clooney and other people did the same thing. They spoke out they protested. They boycotted hotels and nothing changed. So the George Clooney go back to staying at the Beverly Hills hotel. I don't now I haven't been tracking carefully his hotel stays for. So he can work for a while people boycotted the hotels, but then it kind of got out of the news and people for the most part kept going to these hotels, obviously. 'cause they're still there a new George Clooney and Elton John and owned the jenner's probably aren't super tight with like say the president, but have any powerful politicians spoken out about this policy. So President Trump himself hasn't said anything that I'm aware of but the US State Department did they should a statement saying that Brunei's penal code runs counter to international human rights shins. So they definitely condemned it, they said all governments have an obligation. To ensure that all people can freely. Enjoy universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. Now, President Trump hasn't tweeted about it. So I'm not sure if he's even aware of it is into hotels, though, he is into hotels, and he does a lot of Fox News. And I'm sure the Fox News is covering this probably pretty heavily because they're not a big fan of sharia. This whole thing is about sharia. But it turns out the guy who runs Brunei. Might not actually be that into it. That's next on today explained. People like to tweet their toothbrush purchases at me. It's aspect of this job. I didn't really expect this weekend. 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So Soltan Hassanal Bolkiah. He's seventy two years old. He's basically been in power for over fifty years. He became crown prince at age fifteen and then he became Brunei's twenty ninth Sultan in nineteen sixty eight year after his father abdicated. So this guy has been in power for a really long time, basically. And he's in charge of literally everything in the country. Like, he's prime minister. He's defense minister. He's finance minister foreign minister too much for one person. Yeah. The government's money and your money is all the same thing as you run this entire country is your little personal fiefdom, basically. And we're talking about lots of money. Yeah. He is one of the wealthiest men in the world and he lives like two, which is really crazy when you actually stop and kind of compare his lifestyle to the. Kind of strict ascetic like very conservative Islamic law that they're implementing it's completely at odds. What's his lifestyle? Like. The Sultan has like a harem of young girls that he basically gets from around the world. They have people that go around and do casting calls, essentially like, hey, are you in New York? Are you like a young girl looking to be an actress or model come try out? And they basically say, hey, reflected Brunei, and they're like, oh, that's cool. Six onic and band up being entertainers, which basically means having a lot of sex with the Sultan and his family like his brother, who's also a total playboy somebody's girls are young. Some you know as young as fifteen so we're talking lots of adultery lots of extramarital sex the thing that he just thing that he is literally saying you can't do his brother literally has a yacht that he named tits. Classic. Yeah. And it has two side boats that I'll come out nibble one nipple to the twelve basically so their lifestyle choices. The way they act in the world certainly doesn't look like someone who is devoted to got. Two why pass this law the strict strict law about adultery and gay sex and fever? So again, it goes back to this kind of issue of wanting to look more like a conservative Muslim country trying to bring itself in line with some other really powerful really influential conservative Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia Mazza lot of money to spend around the world and invest in a lot of places, and you know, if you want some investment from Saudi Arabia, I guess the idea here is like maybe we could do this. When you throw we night uppercut than touching on the attainment of blessings from Allah. I want to see his lung teachings in this country, grow stronger and more visible in the country. This system preserves and guarantees the rights of all the people regardless of their race and faith. Plus, there's also this really weird dynamic where the Sultan, you know, is trying to diversify his Connie's. It's not just dependent on oil and natural gas and tourism is one. Of the big branches of that that he's trying to build up. But I mean, it's not like you're going to be a huge tourism hotspot if you're stoning gay people to death, right? But can't always other countries to see right through him. I mean, the nipple in the nipple to and the the tits like does it add up? Yes. So luckily, most of the leaders of all these other Muslim countries are super shitty too. I've personally been in an academic environment been around several young members of the Saudi Royal family. And you know, we're talking guys who are in their late teens early twenties, and they're openly throwing money around and arguing over which country has the best hookers and drinking heavily at bars. And so the benefits if you wanna put it that way of being a Royal in these kinds of countries is that you don't actually have to follow any of the rules. They don't really apply to you. Whereas like all the regular people who don't get a vote who have no say in the PR. Press. No say in their own lives. Their emails again are being read social media everything like that is under control those of the people the laws actually apply to. Do we have any idea what the people of Brunei think of their leadership? No, not really for the most part. It's really hard to get messages out. So we usually hear from ex pats people who have fled and sought asylum in the west speaking out about this. There've been some interviews in the media recently with people from Brunei. Toll to expect that something like this would always come about from the school, Louis, talknet. Sharia law was going to be the law land but ever since streaky, even though the king announced that he was going to put instantly. I never imagined the country you occasionally hear from people inside the country who managed to basically sneak a message out. There was a bisexual man who still in Brunei who spoke to a Washington LGBT, news outlet using what's up the encrypted messaging app. And basically saying look like I'm afraid for my life. I'm afraid for what I'm supposed to do living here with my partner and really spoke to the sheer terror if that and the thing is when you control communications like this when you control people's lives to this degree when you have this kind of like economic and political and security relationship where you basically owned the whole country. There's no place for people to get together and really organized because they're all monitored and watched and they're also raised and taught to believe in the stuff. Right. Just think this is good. And that this is essentially family values, right? Like, this is the way to run a just moral society. Jen, you're Muslim what do you make of this interpretation of sharia when you talk about sharia, it's like his big body of law. There's no one thing that Israel or isn't. So probably the best way to think about is like US constitutional law, for example. Right. So you have this fundamental thing, the US constitution, and then you have all these laws over hundreds of years that have evolved and people interpreting this kind of I think they meant this. No, they meant this and laws change, and they go back and forth. Argue over Cherie is the same way. It's based on the Koran and other sources, and it's over hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years that people have argued back and forth, and there's legal theory, and they're different schools of jurisprudence in this whole big body of argument of law, and you can basically pick and choose different versions of interpretation. So there's no one sharia so when. We'll talk about sharia law like this lawn on Fox News as sharia law Muslims in America want sharia, we decided to launch a special Hannity investigation of find out if American Muslims think that real law should supersede the US constitution. Well, if you ask any average Muslim, do you believe in sharia, they're gonna be like, yeah. Because it just means path for how to live like immoral life, and how to set up a society an immoral just socially just way. But depending on whose interpreting it and what century you're going back to for interpretations. Like any religion, you're going to have stuff that reflects the culture at the times quietly at the time. So they're LGBTQ Muslim groups that are very active, and who were like, no, this is this loan like Muslims can be gay, and you can be gay and be Muslim. This is one very strict interpretation. It just happens to be that the Sultan this guy who runs this whole country as his own personal fiefdom has described to this very specific narrow really fundamentalists really hardcore brutal version of Islam that he's implementing in his country. That means that all these people under his rule, they have to believe in act and live in a way that the Sultan says, so even though he doesn't actually live that way himself. Jim Williams is the foreign editor vox. I'm Sean Rotherham this today explained Thanks to the clip electric toothbrush company for supporting the show today. The quip electric starts at just twenty five dollars. That's like an IMAX movie, but clean teeth. No popcorn. Anyway, you can find it at get quip dot com slash explained. That website is G E T Q IP dot com slash explained.