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World Brunei Bans Christmas Celebrations

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Officials in Brunei have banned the public celebration of the Christmas holiday, the country’s Religious Affairs Department confirmed yesterday after reports emerged that the authorities raided restaurants and other buildings that had put up holiday decorations.

The tiny oil-rich nation has banned the public celebrating of Christmas, following concern that it will affect the faith of its Muslims.

Lighting candles, putting up decorations and even wearing Santa hats will be off the cards in Brunei this Christmas – with offenders threatened with up to five years in jail.

Any Muslims caught celebrating Christmas, and non-Muslims who are discovered organising celebrations, could face the lengthy prison sentence.

While non-Muslims are allowed to celebrate the holiday within their own communities, they must not disclose their plans to the nation's Muslims – which make up 65 per cent of the 420,000-strong population.

The nation is also home to substantial Christian and Buddhist communities.

'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,' said the Ministry of Religious Affairs in a statement.
 
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