Dutch Queen In Brunei Amid “Christian Persecution”
ICC Note: Little attention is given to the Islamic “mini-state” of Brunei, however reports are emerging that the countries small Christian minority is facing ever increasing restrictions on practicing their faith. Already churches must register with the government to operate but these requests are often ignored. Churches in Brunei are also prevented from taking in local Muslims who have converted to Christianity.
By Stefan J. Bos
01/21/2013 Brunei (CIC) -Dutch Queen Beatrix has begun a two-day visit to Brunei, focusing on expanding economic relations despite concerns about the reported increased persecution of minority Christians in the gas and oil rich Islamic mini-state.
Well-informed Open Doors, a Netherlands-based Christian relief group, said ahead of her visit that the sultan announced preparations for an 'Islamic Criminal Law' to "complicate the situation for the Christian minority further, especially those known to have converted."
The planned legislation was not expected to receive much opposition from the rubber-stamp parliament, which the sultan reopened in 2004 some 20 years after it was suspended.
Already, "Churches must register, but requests are frequently ignored by officials," said Open Doors, which has close contacts with local Christians. "Registered churches are closely monitored and services are attended by government informants. They are prohibited from taking in seekers [in the Christian faith] and converts from the local population," the group added.
Those who violate the rules reportedly face church closure and possible imprisonment for the pastor. "Because of these restrictions, believers from a Muslim background are often isolated and neglected," Open Doors said.
"Christians face discrimination in the workplace and are ineligible for top positions in the government."
Additionally, "No foreign Christian workers are permitted" while "importing Bibles and Christian literature is illegal for ministry", though "not for personal purposes" according to Open Doors investigators.
Locals in this state of 400,000 people have little opportunity to learn about Christianity, with religious instruction in all schools, including the six Christian schools, in Islam alone, Christians said.