PRIVATE education institutions have been cautioned against propagating religions other than Islam as it is a crime under the Syariah Penal Code Order.During a briefing in Tutong on the law yesterday (Thursday, 13/2/14), legal experts from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office told 300 representatives of private education institutions it was an offence to propagate religions other than Islam to a Muslim or atheist.
The offence is punishable by a fine of up to $20,000, imprisonment for up to five years or both under Section 209.
Exposing beliefs and practices other than Islam to a Muslim child, or a child whose parents are atheist, carries the same punishment.
Under Section 212, it is an offence to “persuade, tell, cause, offer payment to, influence, incite, encourage or let” the child accept such teachings.
Additionally, it is a crime to expose the child to any ceremony, act of worship or religious activity of any religion beside Islam, or to participate in any activity held for the benefit of other religions.
Several provisions relating to the publication, possession and distribution of materials that propagate religions other than Islam are also included in Brunei Darussalam’s Syariah Penal Code Order.
This law applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims. However, there are certain offences that are applicable only to Muslims.
Brunei is set to enforce the first phase of the new law in April, ushering in Ta’zir or general offences that are punishable by fines, imprisonment or both.
Harsher punishments for serious crimes, such as amputation of limbs for stealing, will be introduced in the second phase, while the death penalty will only come into force in the third phase, pending the finalisation of the Syariah Courts Criminal Procedure Code Order.
Assistant Director of Private Institutions Section at the Ministry of Education Pg Othman Pg Mohd Daud said the new law would “ensure the prosperity, well-being, peace and solidarity” of the people in the Sultanate.
Pg Othman, in his speech at the briefing, said the Syariah Penal Code Order would serve as a platform to overcome the negative problems and challenges brought about by the “rapid development of a borderless world”.
The briefing, which aimed to raise awareness and understanding of the new law, was held at the district community hall for private education institutions in Tutong and Belait.
The Brunei Times
Thursday, 13 February 2014