|Region||East and Southeast Asia|
|Leader||Sultan & First Minister Hassanal Bolkiah|
“Minorities like Christians, who make up 16 percent of the population, are feeling increased pressure.”
Brunei has been a sultanate for more than 600 years, and every important position is still held by the Sultan himself, including prime minister, finance minister, minister of the interior and head of religion. People deeply revere and respect him and any criticism is unacceptable. His government provides free medical services and subsidises goods such as rice and housing. There are no school fees for state schools, and citizens of Brunei do not have to pay income tax. His policies are based on revenues from large oil and gas fields, covering 90 percent of the government’s GDP.
Most of the citizens have never lived under any other system. Even the sultan’s announcement of introducing sharia (Islamic) penal law in May 2014 did not change the peoples’ affection for him. The second phase encompassing corporal punishments was supposed to begin in May 2015, but was delayed due to international pressure. Minorities like Christians, who make up 16 percent of the population, are feeling increased pressure, since the sultan leans more and more towards conservative Islam.
Open Doors urges prayer support for believers in Brunei and for the local churches as they are experiencing mounting pressure from the government. Pray also for church leaders who need biblical equipping, particularly in dealing with growing religious restrictions.