The Sultan, now 67, has slowly been moving Brunei in this direction for decades, but this recent, drastic declaration has no clear motive. ” says Reza Aslan, religious scholar and author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” “This is obviously not coming from a place of religious devotion, since the Sultan himself is in violation of every single rule of Sharia law you could possibly imagine.” Indeed, the Sultan and his equally decadent brother, Prince Jefri, were dubbed “constant companions in hedonism” in 2011 by Vanity Fair.
Brunei is so rich with oil, it’s fully independent; nor is it a target of Islamic extremists. He lives in a palace with 1,788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, five swimming pools, a mosque, a banquet hall that holds 5,000 people and a 110-car garage.
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(His brother also treats the country as an ATM, and it remains a crime in Brunei for anyone to ever discuss how the royals spend their money.) “It was certainly a concern,” she says.
“But we didn’t talk amongst ourselves because it was a very touchy subject — who was sleeping with him when.
Here and abroad, the brothers are infamous for their sex parties and their harems composed mainly of underage girls.
In 1984, after nearly 100 years as a British protectorate, Brunei gained independence.
Brunei is about the size of Delaware, with a population of 415,000, and the government provides free education, health care, pensions and low-interest loans for the purchase of homes and cars.Last week, celebrities including Jay Leno, Ellen De Generes, Sharon Osbourne, Richard Branson and Clive Davis united for an unlikely cause: a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, because its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, recently announced the implementation of Sharia law in his tiny South Asian nation.“Theory states that Allah’s law is cruel and unfair,” said Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, “but Allah himself has said that his law is indeed fair.” Under Sharia law, the following is considered criminal behavior, punishable by fines, jail, amputation of limbs, public flogging or death by stoning: absence from Friday prayer services; becoming pregnant out of wedlock; wearing indecent clothing, and for women, refusal to wear a hijab; employing a non-Muslim baby sitter; the use of the word “Allah” by Christians and the discussion of faith by any non-Muslims; publicly eating or drinking during Ramadan; theft; homosexuality; and adultery.Tellingly, he called Islam a “firewall” against globalization — despite the all-too-worldly life he leads.As for the outrage and celebrity-led boycotts, Aslan finds them misguided and hypocritical.
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When he turned 50, the Sultan built a stadium, invited Michael Jackson to perform in it and paid him $17 million for three concerts.