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Brunei Bans Daytime Dining in Muslim Restaurants

Categories: East Asia, Brunei, Economics & Business, Law, Religion

The Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) has issued an order [1] prohibiting non-Muslims to dine in a restaurant or fastfood outlet owned by Muslims in the daytime during the holy month of Ramadhan. The new regulation is meant to show respect to Muslims who are fasting during the day. Brunei is a Muslim-majority nation.

Non-Muslims are advised to take out their order and consume their food elsewhere. The ban applies to foreigners and tourists as well.

Many people were surprised with the directive considering that Ramadhan will be over soon. Some restaurant owners [2] are not yet aware of the new regulation. KFC Brunei [3] has issued this statement to advise customers about the adjustment in their operations in response to the MUIB directive:

With respect to the new directive from the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), only Takeaway, Delivery and Drive Thru services will be available during the fasting period of the Ramadhan month. Our operating hours remain the same

Brunei restaurant. Photo from Flickr of Reeda. CC License [4]

Brunei restaurant. Photo from Flickr of Reeda. CC License

Netizens reacted [5] strongly. On Instagram, @maurina [6] described the new ruling as silly:

This is the silliest directive ever! Somehow I don't think the world have to stop just because we're fasting. Fasting in Ramadhan is an awesome time between me and my beautiful God. It has nothing to do with non-Muslims eating in restaurants? Sorry MUIB! This is a #fail. Lets stay positive and be a more tolerant society!

@alingms [7] shared the same sentiment:

@maurina omg! Too much eh! Even non muslims cant eat? They might as well force each and every non muslim to convert! Why cant they respect other religion as well kan?!!

@nr_han [8] feared that Brunei could soon be the ‘land of endless restrictions’:

This is so stupid! Did they even think thoroughly of the implications before implementing this rule?? Brunei…Abode of peace. Yeah right. More like, Land of Endless Restrictions!

The ruling has ‘weakened the nation’, according to @jo8bean [9]:

Agreed, #epicfail @maurina.. If I may be so bold to say that this directive has just ‘weakened a nation’. #tsk

@liza_mohd [10] commented that it could make Brunei a ‘less tolerant community’:

Inconsiderate towards minorities & it also makes us look like a less tolerant community. Such an unprecedented and absurd move!

But @imanadzmara [11] reminded netizens to keep calm since the ruling will not be implemented the whole year:

It's only for Ramadhan NOT the whole year round and it only affected muslim food operators. Yeah, keep calm. We are still blessed to live in a ‘free’ country, no income tax, free education, free medical and expensive treatments abroad. Why need to jump when the Government do this ‘small’ thing compared to the ‘big’ thing given to us. Take it or leave it

@qhhr [12] has mixed feelings over the directive:

People, there are loopholes here. In light of what has happened, at least you save a lot of money. Although, the new implemented rule is ridiculous. It could have been done eons ago, we were better off it anyway.

@n_cud [13] wrote that it is insulting to non-Muslims:

Its the fact that this was even thought of in the beginning that is kinda insulting to non muslims, loophole or not.. Where does it end? Closin down of all businesses during prayer times everyday? seems like we're headed that way

@kangta164 [14] argued that it is an unnecessary regulation:

Personally, I think it's one of the “unnecessary” rule implemented. Fasting is about an individual commitment to resist temptation. To implement such rule that affects businesses is illogical. I personally hate the fact that it segregates “non Muslims” and “Muslims” because it encourages religionism. I do have Muslims friends and I respect the fact that they're fasting so realistically, I won't eat in front of them. But to make it a mandatory rule is pretty much ridiculous.

It seemed authorities became overzealous in performing their job, wrote @tiny_lou [15]:

Isnt it about resisting temptation? So if the temptations removed. .no resistance required! Seemd over zealous..what next..cut off all water supplies?? What about tourists..expats..non muslims?