Virgin CEO Richard Branson announces boycott of Brunei-owned hotels

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richard_bransonSir Richard Branson, founder and CEO of the Virgin Group, a $25 billion multinational conglomerate, announced on May 3 that he, his company and all Virgin employees would boycott hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei due to the country’s newly introduced Shariah law that, among other measures, allows stoning of homosexual people.

“No Virgin employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights,” Branson said in a post on Twitter.

Branson is the next in a row of celebrities to oppose Brunei’s new law, including actress Ellen DeGeneres, actor Steven Fry and music manager Sharon Osbourne.

The boycott is targeted against The Dorchester Collection, a chain of luxury hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a state investment fund controlled by Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Branson tweetDorchester properties include the famed Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, The Dorcester and 45 Park Lane in London, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, Le Richemond in Geneva, Hotel Eden in Rome, Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, and Coworth Park in Berkshire, UK.

The United Nations also have strongly criticised the law as a step backward in human rights. Currently, only a few countries in the world apply the Shariah penal code: Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Republic of Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Maldives, Pakistan, Qatar and Yemen, Aceh state in Indonesia, twelve states in northern Nigeria and all UAE emirates except Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.

The new penal code, that also includes severe punishment such as cutting off limbs for theft and robbery, stoning for adultery, pregnancy out of marriage and sodomy, whipping for alcohol consumption by Muslims, failure to perform Friday prayers and propagating other religions and insulting the Koran or the Prophet.

Most of the laws will also apply to non-Muslims, which has raised concerns especially among ethnic Chinese in Brunei, which make 15 per cent of the population.

Critics have pointed out that the harsh penal code contrasts with the royal family’s reputation for decadent excess in earlier years. The monarchy was deeply embarrassed by a sensational family feud between the sultan and his younger brother Jefri Bolkiah over the latter’s alleged embezzlement of $15 billion from state funds during his tenure as finance minister in the 1990s.

Court battles and investigations revealed salacious details of Prince Jefri’s un-Islamic jet-set lifestyle, including allegations of a high-priced harem of Western women while he had five wives at a time, and a luxury yacht he owned called “Tits”.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sir Richard Branson, founder and CEO of the Virgin Group, a $25 billion multinational conglomerate, announced on May 3 that he, his company and all Virgin employees would boycott hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei due to the country’s newly introduced Shariah law that, among other measures, allows stoning of homosexual people.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

richard_bransonSir Richard Branson, founder and CEO of the Virgin Group, a $25 billion multinational conglomerate, announced on May 3 that he, his company and all Virgin employees would boycott hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei due to the country’s newly introduced Shariah law that, among other measures, allows stoning of homosexual people.

“No Virgin employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights,” Branson said in a post on Twitter.

Branson is the next in a row of celebrities to oppose Brunei’s new law, including actress Ellen DeGeneres, actor Steven Fry and music manager Sharon Osbourne.

The boycott is targeted against The Dorchester Collection, a chain of luxury hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a state investment fund controlled by Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Branson tweetDorchester properties include the famed Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, The Dorcester and 45 Park Lane in London, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, Le Richemond in Geneva, Hotel Eden in Rome, Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, and Coworth Park in Berkshire, UK.

The United Nations also have strongly criticised the law as a step backward in human rights. Currently, only a few countries in the world apply the Shariah penal code: Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Republic of Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Maldives, Pakistan, Qatar and Yemen, Aceh state in Indonesia, twelve states in northern Nigeria and all UAE emirates except Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.

The new penal code, that also includes severe punishment such as cutting off limbs for theft and robbery, stoning for adultery, pregnancy out of marriage and sodomy, whipping for alcohol consumption by Muslims, failure to perform Friday prayers and propagating other religions and insulting the Koran or the Prophet.

Most of the laws will also apply to non-Muslims, which has raised concerns especially among ethnic Chinese in Brunei, which make 15 per cent of the population.

Critics have pointed out that the harsh penal code contrasts with the royal family’s reputation for decadent excess in earlier years. The monarchy was deeply embarrassed by a sensational family feud between the sultan and his younger brother Jefri Bolkiah over the latter’s alleged embezzlement of $15 billion from state funds during his tenure as finance minister in the 1990s.

Court battles and investigations revealed salacious details of Prince Jefri’s un-Islamic jet-set lifestyle, including allegations of a high-priced harem of Western women while he had five wives at a time, and a luxury yacht he owned called “Tits”.

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