LONDON: The University of Oxford says it will reconsider an honorary degree it awarded the Sultan of Brunei following the outcry over new Islamic laws in the Southeast Asian nation that punish gay sex and adultery by stoning offenders to death.
The university said on Saturday it shared the “international revulsion” the laws induced and that it would reconsider a 1993 decision to confer the honorary degree of civil law by diploma to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. But Oxford stressed that no one had the right “summarily to rescind” the degree.
Dozens of protesters raised the rainbow flag of the LGBT rights movement on Saturday outside London’s Dorchester Hotel, which Brunei’s sultan owns. Celebrities including George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres have supported a global boycott of nine hotels tied to Hassanal.
In the small Asian nation of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is a one-man show.
He’s not only Brunei’s absolute monarch and supreme leader of the Islamic faith, but also the country’s prime minister, finance minister, foreign affairs and trade minister, superintendent of police, defence minister and commander of the armed forces, and even chancellor of the national university.
A personal wealth estimated at $27.7 billion has earned him a place among the world’s richest rulers – and this week, the all-powerful Sultan became one of its most controversial.
The Sultan, 72, has introduced a brutal new criminal code in his tiny country, which is the first in East Asia to elevate sharia law to the national level.
The sultan lives in the largest royal residence in the world: the Instana Nurul Iman Palace, a sprawling 1800-room residence on the bank of the Brunei River that’s worth $1.8 billion.