The Beverly Hills Hotel is finding itself in the middle of a political and media firestorm, after human rights activists learned that the posh Hollywood venue is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, a man who just instituted Sharia law whereby women will be flogged for having abortions, and gays will be stoned to death.
Apparently flogging women and stoning gays is bad for business.
UPDATE: It seems the US ExIm Ban has a $1bn financing agreement with Brunei. Perhaps that needs another look.
It all began with the Gill Action Fund cancelling a conference at the hotel. Next up, the Feminist Majority Foundation pulled its annual Global Women’s Rights Awards, co-chaired by Jay and Mavis Leno. Then the Motion Picture & Television Fund yanked its “glitchy” Oscar party, the Hollywood Reporter canceled its Women in Entertainment breakfast, actor Stephen Fry canceled his reservations and announced a boycott, and so on.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is part of the Dorchester Collection, which is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, which is controlled by the Sultan himself, Hassanal Bolkiah. Dorchester owns a number of other swank properties in the US and Europe:
The trouble began when the sultan of the oil-rich Asian country (Brunei is north of Australia and Indonesia), who is himself filthy and lavishly rich — he’s apparently a big fan of gold, and has a gold-plated Rolls-Royce — announced a new Sharia penal code (based on conservative Islam) under which, among other things, women who have abortions will be flogged and anyone gay will be stoned to death.
The law also provides for the severing of limbs for property crimes.
While Brunei has delayed implementation of the new law, they have said it will go into effect “in the very near future.”
For its part, the Beverly Hills Hotel is trying to explain away the hate:
“We continue to abide by the laws of the countries we operate in and do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind.
“We are aware that many variations of Sharia law are practiced in many countries throughout the world and these countries have diverse business interests including fashion, hospitality and travel groups, media, entertainment, banking and many other sectors.”
I suppose that means the hotel doesn’t participate in stonings in the US. That’s nice.
As for the hotel’s suggestion that there’s some hypocrisy going on here, because people have no problem frequenting businesses tied to other Sharia-law countries, they’re right. We shouldn’t be supporting those businesses either. But that’s not a good reason to end the boycott, simply because other businesses are run by human rights abusers too. The appropriate response is to find out who those businesses are and avoid them like the plague.
And for all you naysayers, the Sultan assures us that Allah thinks the law is fair:
“Theory states that Allah’s law is harsh and unfair, but Allah himself has said that his law is indeed fair,” the Sultan said in comments apparently aimed at critics.
And after all, do we really have the right to go after someone’s business simply because we disagree with his God?