Brunei has become the first Asian country to implement Sharia law, the controversial Islamic legal system that includes criminal punishments like amputations and whipping, on a national scale. According to the Agence France-Presse, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah wants to put more emphasis on Islam, prompted partly by wayward foreign influences like the Internet. "Today... I place my faith in and am grateful to God the almighty to announce that tomorrow, Thursday May 1, will see the enforcement of sharia law phase one, to be followed by the other phases," the sultan said.
The first round of the country’s Sharia law, which starts tomorrow, will put those who have a child out of wedlock, fail to pray on Friday, or promote religions other than Islam before an Islamic court, where they could face fines or jail time. The second phase will be implemented in a year, according to VICE News, and will include whippings and amputations for crimes including consuming alcohol and theft. The following year, death sentences could be implemented for adultery, sodomy, or insulting the Prophet Muhammad. The United Nations has condemned the decision, and said they’re “deeply concerned." Stoning is classified under international law as “torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” but could be implemented under the new codes.
Sharia law existed in some capacity in Brunei, but only applied to Muslims (the country has a 70 percent Malay Muslim population.) Now, it will apply to everyone, regardless of their religion. The announcement didn't come as a complete surprise, as officials have been implementing more restrictions on civil life, and stamping down on "indecent" behavior.