c. Freedom of Religion
The law states, "The religion of Brunei Darussalam shall be the Muslim religion according to the Shafi'i sect of that religion: Provided that all other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony by the person professing them in any part of Brunei Darussalam."
The government controlled mosques, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs prepared the weekly Friday sermons delivered in mosques countrywide.
The government restricted the practice of non‑Islamic religions and non‑Shafi'i Islamic groups, and it reinforced the legitimacy of the observance of traditional and Islamic values through its national ideology.
The government used its internal security apparatus--including such measures as surveillance, investigation, and detention--against persons whom it considered to be purveyors of radical Islam, non-Muslims who attempted to proselytize, and religious groups that did not belong to the official religion. It has banned the Baha'i Faith and the Islamist Al‑Arqam movement, and it detained a number of the latter's followers.
In July 2004 the government released six members of the movement who had been detained since 2003. A seventh man, Mohammed Ashadi Haji Sulaiman, who had been arrested later, was released in May.
Registration is required by law for a group to worship communally. Under legislation amended in January, an organization that fails to register can face charges of unlawful assembly. All non‑Shafi'i religious groups are required to register as associations. In 2003 two Christian groups were denied permission to register.
The government routinely restricted the practice of non-Muslim religions by prohibiting proselytizing, occasionally denying entry to foreign clergy, banning the importation of religious teaching materials or scriptures such as the Bible, and denying requests to expand or build new churches, temples, and shrines. Non‑Muslims who proselytize may be arrested or detained and held without charges for an extended period of time.
Muslims who wished to change or renounce their religion faced considerable difficulties. Born Muslims faced official and societal pressure not to leave Islam. Permission from the Ministry of Religious Affairs must be obtained, and there were no reports of anyone requesting such permission. There were instances of persons, often foreign women, who converted to Islam as a prelude to marrying Muslims, as required by the country's Islamic law.
Government statistics reported that 10 percent of the 424 conversions to Islam during the year were due to marriage. After the marriages took place, these women faced intense official pressure not to return to their former religions or encountered extraordinary delays in obtaining permission. Unlike in the past, there were no cases of divorced Muslim converts who, because of official and societal pressure, remained officially Muslim.
Authorities continued to arrest persons for offenses under Shari'a, such as khalwat and consumption of alcohol.
The Ministry of Education requires courses on Islam and the national ideology and prohibits the teaching of other religions. The ministry requires all students, including non‑Muslims, to follow a course of study on the Islamic faith and learn Arabic script.
The International School of Brunei and the Jerudong International School were exempt from these requirements, but both offered Islamic instruction for Muslims. Private Christian schools are not allowed to give Christian instruction and are required to give instruction on Islam. However, the government did not prohibit or restrict parents from giving religious instruction to children at home.
The government routinely censored magazine articles on other faiths by blacking out or removing photographs of crucifixes and other religious symbols. In addition government officials prevented the public display, distribution, and sale of items featuring non‑Islamic religious symbols.
The government requires residents to carry an identity card that states the bearer's religion. Visitors to the country are asked to identify their religion on their landing cards.
Only Islamic groups belonging to the Shafi'i school are permitted to organize public religious processions; however, during the year a limited number of public lion dances to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year were allowed.
Monik wrote:I have read a few of your posts.
Briefly, Malay muslims unlike their ME counterpart are less religious, and often than not, do not abide to strict Islamic teachings. In Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, Islam is used as a tool of governance by the ruling Malay elites. Islam encourages servitude, and to question an islamic head of state will be seen as doubting Allah's authority.
What better way to rule and unite the indigenious masses by subscribing them under Islam.
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