Leno, Branson & Brunei: On Boycotting Shari'a Law

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,,,,, at 5/11/2014 12:30:00 AM
Can Jay Leno and other white people "save" us foreign primitives from shari'a law?
Life is a series of endless annoyances you just wish would go away. This latest brouhaha started when big-chinned American funnyman Jay Leno publicized his boycott of the landmark Beverly Hills Hotel which is part of the Dorchester Collection hotel chain owned by the Sultan of Brunei. His recent implementation of shari'a law in Brunei has provoked an outcry among Western activists. Instead of blowing away, however, it's gotten worse as the glitterati have followed suit. The Hotel Bel Air which is also part of the Dorchester Collection has also been targeted. Not to be outdone, Sir Richard Branson decided to wade into the fray by prohibiting all Virgin employees from patronizing the sultan's properties--including the flagship Dorchester Hotel favored by the late Michael Jackson--citing "human rights violations."

I have four points:

(1) Ignorant Westerners living in their white people's worlds and applying their biased interpretations of morality on others is hardly unusual. Shari'a law with its--how shall we say--vivid punishments is a favorite target of Westerners since these include storing to death of adulterers and homosexuals. However, there is a not-insignificant difference between the literal interpretation of shari'a law and the punishments most commonly meted out. Take for instance, how shari'a is followed in the UAE:
Consider the courts' interpretation of family law. The UAE mandates that Sharia is used as the primary legal justification on matters involving family legal issues. But the UAE personal status law, which covers marriage, divorce and succession, also states in Article 1 that "the law shall apply to all UAE nationals except where non-Muslim UAE nationals have special rules relating to their specific creed or sect".

What's more, Article 1 adds that the law will apply to non-UAE nationals as well, unless they choose their own law. Elements of the nation's criminal code offer similar distinctions. For instance, payment of blood money in the event of a death or injury is allowed according to Sharia. Crimes such as the desertion of Islam, fornication, murder, theft, adultery and homosexuality - all crimes classified as "Al Hudud" in Arabic - are punishable by predetermined penalties (flogging and arm amputation among them). And yet some emirates have suspended Al Hudud provisions pursuant to their rulers' decrees and replaced the Sharia penalties with jail terms and fines as determined by the law according to each case respectively [my emphasis].
I am less concerned with the archaic punishments a literal interpretation of shari'a demands--the Old Testament is hardly more palatable in this respect to modern eyes. Rather, less concern should surround a country's legal system adopting aspects of shari'a law--usually the civil code--and  more with what punishments are actually meted out. Not having sentenced anyone to death by stoning for adultery yet--the sultan's brother, the dissipated wastrel Prince Jefri, should be first in line with his global philandering [1, 2]--Brunei still has the benefit of the doubt.

(2) If these Westerners were truly aghast at shari'a law in any way, shape or form, then their boycott should not only be confined to tiny Brunei. In the UK, it puzzles me why the Emiratis have not been subject to the sort of boycott the sultan has when Emiratis bankroll even more visible bits of the UK in the football clubs Arsenal (which plays at the Emirates Stadium) and Manchester City (which is owned by a member of Abu Dhabi's royal family). Doing so would bring football, the country's most-watched sport, to an absolute standstill since Manchester City looks likely to win this year's championship while Arsenal gains another Champions League berth. British royal warrants notwithstanding, Sir Richard Branson and his high society pals should also refrain from shopping at the world's most famous department store, Qatari owned Harrods. Similarly, Virgin Atlantic ought to stop flying out of Heathrow airport since it's part-owned by the Qataris.

In America, even the right-wingers at Breibart have a laundry list of other concerns that should be boycotted if shari'a law was to be avoided at all costs. Me, I'll stick to Jay Leno's other passion here--collecting automobiles. With so many big-engined exotic cars to fuel up in his garage, how sure is Jay Leno that his petrol has not been sourced from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or another homosexual-hating hydrocarbon supplier? Last I checked, Saudi alone supplied 13% of US-consumed oil, likely making Leno a rather famous consumer of products originating from a shari'a law-abiding nation (20% come from the "Persian Gulf"). To be safe on the safe side, he should also sell all his Ferrari car(s) since the automaker has a longstanding commercial tie-up with Abu Dhabi, including a theme park.

(3) Implicitly, there is also this typically condescending Western conceit that they "know better" about the barbarity of others and have a responsibility to "save" us colored people from our despotic rulers. Did it ever occur to them that some Muslims actually prefer the implementation of shari'a law--especially in civil matters? It is not uncommon for even predominantly non-Islamic countries to bow to such wishes granting shari'a courts powers of interpretation over these matters.

From Political Science 101, there is this notion of political legitimacy. Jay Leno and others only focus on extreme punishments not usually meted out by shari'a courts. Would so many people--especially in non-Islamic countries--tolerate or even demand these courts if the decisions made were completely out of line with people's expectations? I do not believe so. Rather, most courts issue rulings that pass muster even in non-Islamic countries which sufficiently meet the expectations of Islamic and other communities. In other words, the operation of these courts passes the test of legitimacy. Granted, some rulings may be abhorrent to Western sensibilities, but consider first what citizens' expectations are of their legal systems. Just because rulings are made by "authoritarian" figures does not mean they are bereft of popular support. If Brunei's citizens want to turf Sultan Bolkiah over enacting shari'a law, then it's their call and not anyone else's.

(4) If Jay Leno, Richard Branson and all these busybody celebs were truly concerned with human rights violations, then they should focus less on a country which hasn't stoned a single offender to death but rather their own countries that actually commit human rights violations on a massive scale. The United States invades other countries on false pretenses resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and then leaves them worse off in the name of democracy and freedom. It also kills innocent people indiscriminately the world over via drone strikes in the name of the global war on terror.

Complain if you will with the interpretation of shari'a law, but at least there is due process. The United States reserves the right to indefinitely detain and Guantanamo Ghraib people without any legal recourse whatsoever, Americans included. Unlike a certain other government, Brunei's doesn't abduct persons in 50+ countries Boko Haram-style and torture them somewhere else. Speaking of excessive punishment, there is also the matter of the United States jailing a larger proportion of its own people than any other country on earth--especially African-Americans not lucky enough to be well-off, white activists who have all the time in the world to pick on things of limited consequence outside the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Following the Gandhian principle of "peaceful disobedience"--he's, like, big in Hollywood since his biopic won 8 Oscars--I suggest that Jay Leno and his followers stop paying taxes to the US government which inflicts death and misery worldwide on an unprecedented scale instead of picking on a country that *may* issue an inhumane punishment in the future. My guess is they won't because they pick targets that are easy to demagogue against.


Bottom line for these Western activists: As sung by the late Michael Jackson, if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change.  Start with your own country since these holier-than-thou attitudes certainly don't impress us after years and years of American hypocrisy. It's "We the People," right? The IPE Zone does not suffer religious intolerance gladly  coming from Western left-wing or right-wing crusaders. They are too secure in their smug self-superiority. In the end, however, their differences are small since they share largely similar, narrow-minded whitebread views of the world.

To show you just how asinine these protests are, some desperately uninformed soul wearing designer shades [natch] in Leno's protest is seen urging Brunei to be excluded from the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) expansion negotiations. My dear, Brunei is a founding member of the TPP. Your country is merely trying to join it. Should your country press for what you suggest, it's far more likely that Brunei will "kick out" the United States. As many a blog post here will attest, Americans are this proud of parading their ignorance for all the world to see.