According to reports which appeared on Independent news website, Brunei introduced its ban on Christmas in 2014 over fears that celebrating it “excessively and openly” could lead its Muslim population astray. At least 65 per cent of Brunei’s 420,000-strong populations are Muslims.
The ban was formerly introduced by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who has ruled the former British colony for nearly 50 years.
Sultan further announced that Christians and others can celebrate Christmas privately. And they have to first alert the authorities too.
However, some local Islamic religious leader also promote the ban warn saying that adopting the trappings of Christmas is tantamount to imitation of another faith, prohibited in some interpretations of Islam.
Officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs have also reportedly visited local businesses to ensure they are not displaying Christmas decorations, including Santa hats and banners with Christmas greetings.
The Christmas ban is justified under the new laws – the punishment for celebrating Christmas is a fine of $20,000 or up to five years in prison, or both.
To encounter the ban, a social media campaign #MyTreedom has also been started which encourages Christians and others in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran to post images of themselves celebrating Christmas. Brunei residents are also taking part in this campaign.