Sunday, 18 April 2021 09:47 GMT

Morocco- Brunei Warns of Possible Jail Time for Celebrating Christmas

(MENAFN - Morocco World News) Muslims and non-Muslims found celebrating Christmas openly in Brunei could face up to five years in prison according to a statement released by the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Muslim majority state. The tiny oil-rich state banned public celebrations of Christmas including sending festive greetings and the wearing of Santa Claus hats over fears of of Muslims losing their faith.

The statement said that “these enforcement measures are intended to control the act of celebrating Christmas excessively and openly which could damage the 'aqidah' (beliefs) of the Muslim community.”

Christians and non-Muslims who comprise 32 per cent of the 420000 population are allowed to celebrate indoors without any outward manifestations of the celebrations such as showing a Christmas tree outside.

The statement said that non-Muslims disclosing or displaying Christmas celebrations are violating the penal code which prohibits proselytizing any religion other than Islam to Muslims.

In a warning to Muslims earlier this month a group of Imams warned that any celebration “not in any way related to Islam' could lead to “'tashabbuh' (imitation) and unknowingly damage the 'aqidah' (faith) of Muslims.'

'During Christmas celebrations Muslims following [Christianity's] traditionssuch as using their religious symbols like the cross lighting candles putting up Christmas trees and singing religious songs sending Christmas greetings using signs praising the religion putting up decorations or creating sounds and doing anything that amounts to respecting their religionare against Islamic faith' the Imams said according to the Borneo Bulletin.

The Imams said that some may regard this as a trivial matter and 'should not be brought up as an issue' but they stress dthe need to keep any non-Muslim religious celebration 'away as it could affect our Islamic faith.'

Social media users who considered the ban 'unfair' launched a social media campaign with the hash tag #MyTreedom. The campaign called on Christians and non-Christians in Islamic countries to post their photos celebrating Christmas.

At least 65 per cent of the 420000-strong population of Brunei are Muslims.

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