TIME

Brunei’s Shari‘a Law Irks Hollywood Stars, Triggers Boycotts

Jay Leno watches as his wife Mavis speaks to supporters of women's rights and LGBT groups at a protest across from the Beverly Hills Hotel, owned by the Sultan of Brunei, on May 5, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Jay Leno watches as his wife Mavis speaks to supporters of women's rights and LGBT groups at a protest across from the Beverly Hills Hotel, owned by the Sultan of Brunei, on May 5, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images

Hollywood businesses and celebrities have vowed to boycott the Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel chain owned by the state-run Brunei Investment Agency, after the country implemented a strict Shari'a code last week

Jay Leno, Richard Branson and the Motion Picture & Television Fund have slammed Brunei’s decision to implement an ultraorthodox form of Shari‘a law last week and have called for boycotts against hotels owned by the oil-rich state.

The new criminal code will allow courts to amputate the limbs of thieves, stone convicted adulterers and levy harsh punishments for abortions and homosexuality.

“The decision to implement the [Shari‘a penal code] is not for fun but is to obey Allah’s command as written in the Quran,” said the country’s billionaire leader Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah last week, according to the Associated Press.

The new criminal codes can also be applied to the Southeast Asian nation’s non-Muslim residents, who make up approximately one-third of the tiny country’s population.

On Monday former late-night talk-show host Jay Leno led a protest in front of the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, which is part of the Dorchester Collection owned by the state-run Brunei Investment Agency.

“What is this, Berlin 1933? This doesn’t seem far off what happened in the Holocaust,” said Leno, according to AFP. “Come on, people, it’s 2014. Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.”

The Feminist Majority Foundation, which is co-chaired by Leno and his wife Mavis, announced this week that its annual Global Women’s Rights Awards scheduled to take place at the Beverly Hills Hotel would be moved to another venue.

Over the weekend, Virgin Group’s founder Richard Branson took to Twitter to rail against the Sultan’s open disregard for human rights.

However, the Dorchester Collection’s chief executive Christopher Cowdray rejected the boycotts and dismissed the protests against the company as misguided.

“American companies across the board are funded by foreign investment, including sovereign wealth funds,” he said in a statement.

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