Local Social Media Responses to Sharia Law in Brunei
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Social network sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and Reddit have become part of our shared consciousness. Brunei Darussalam is a small nation of less than half a million people and reportedly has one of the highest instances of social media penetration in the region (and possibly globally). With the recently completed implementation of the third (of three) phase(s) of sharia law, Brunei has been thrust into the international spotlight. Discussions and rhetoric abound across the world, and multiple reactions and responses have been shared, analysed and shared again. One of the main avenues for these is the social mediascape. This is none too surprising given the ubiquity of social media today and its role as a digital commons of sorts where discourse of all kinds and purposes takes place. Social media also allows the easy dissemination of information across the world, resulting in some from the outside assuming the mantle of “defender of the downtrodden”; many have taken offense on behalf of the supposed beleaguered masses who purportedly suffer under laws many global on-lookers describe as barbaric and backward. But to what extent are local voices represented in the online echo chamber of discussion of Brunei’s sharia law? And what are these local voices saying about sharia and the current clime within this small Islamic nation? This paper aims to examine the publicly available local social media responses to sharia law in Brunei, and consider the different viewpoints and perspectives of those whose daily lives may be affected by it.
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