By Richard S. Ehrlich
(RNS) The sultan of Brunei announced on Tuesday (Oct. 22) he will rule his oil-rich Islamic country according to Shariah laws, including death by stoning for adultery, the amputation of limbs for theft, flogging for alcohol consumption and abortion, and other punishments.
The Shariah penal code will begin in phases starting in April 2014, said Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, according to Agence France-Presse.
Brunei is on the northwest edge of Borneo island, which is also part of Indonesia and Malaysia in the South China Sea.
“Let us not just look at the hand-cutting or the stoning or the caning (flogging) per se, but let us also look at the conditions governing them,” Brunei’s Mufti Awang Abdul Aziz, the country’s top Islamic scholar, told a legal conference, according to The Associated Press.
“It is not indiscriminate cutting or stoning or caning,” he added. “There are conditions and there are methods that are just and fair.”
The laws and punishments apply only to the Sunni Muslim majority in the Southeast Asian country that enjoys one of the richest economies in Asia, based on extensive fields of petroleum and natural gas.