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The Sultan of Brunei is the Grinch who cancelled Christmas

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 2:18 IST

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who has ruled the oil-rich Brunei since the past 50 years, has cancelled Christmas. The ban was imposed in 2014, because the Sultan fears that boisterous Christmas celebrations could lead devout Muslims astray. #WhatDoYouMean

Wearing Santa caps, putting up a Christmas tree, lighting candles and sending season's greetings have been banned as well. The country's 4,20,000 population comprises 32 per cent non-Muslims.

So, if you're a Christian in Brunei, you can enjoy your portly Santas, sleighs, carols and rum-soaked cakes, but first you must notify the government. And, you must not include Muslims in your celebrations.


Local clerics have supported the ban, saying celebrating Christmas is same as 'imitation of another religion. A stricter penal law that takes inspiration from the Sharia, declares punishment against those who flout the rule.

According to the Brunei Times, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has issued a statement saying: "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".

So, now if you're found guilty of being Christmassy during Christmas, you can be fined up to $20,000 or spend five years in prison.


Christians in Saudi and Iran have come to Brunei's rescue with a hashtag, #MyTreedom which encourages everyone to share images of their Christmas celebrations online.

First published: 22 December 2015, 6:21 IST