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Jay Leno leads boycott of Beverly Hills Hotel, city confronts Brunei over sharia law

By Dana Feldman

BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - The City of Beverly Hills voted unanimously on Tuesday to pressure the government of Brunei to divest the Beverly Hills Hotel, the pink-hued haunt of the Hollywood set, after the small country's enactment of sharia law prompted protests.

Comedians Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno and British entrepreneur Richard Branson have been the most prominent figures to advocate shunning the hotel and its bungalows, a favored locale for the Hollywood elite since it opened a century ago.

The resolution urges Brunei to divest its ownership of the hotel, and any other properties it owns within Beverly Hills, and condemns it and other countries that operate under Islamic criminal law.

Emotions were high in the packed council chambers as scores of rank-and-file employees, as well as residents and others, expressed opposition to human rights abuses, support for the fabled property, as well as a reliance on the hotel for jobs.

"This is misguided," Robert Anderson told Reuters after the vote. "We should be against human rights violations in all countries, not just the Brunei."

Badrul Chowdhury, a waiter at the hotel for 14 years, said Brunei was far removed from the lives of hotel workers: "We work. We take care of our families."

Brunei, a former British protectorate of about 400,000 run by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, last week became the first East Asian country to adopt the Islamic criminal law. It will punish offenses like sodomy and adultery with the death penalty, including by stoning.

The laws will be introduced in phases in the energy-rich country nestled between two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo, with the harshest penalties going into effect in two years.

The U.S. government has been largely silent on the issue until Tuesday, when the State Department told reporters the ambassador to Brunei had privately relayed concerns to the government there about the law.

Why Are So Many People Boycotting The Beverly Hills Hotel?

Through the resolution the council members were "adding their voice" to international outrage, said a spokeswoman.

The council stopped short of taking direct action, such as a city-sanctioned boycott.

In the last few days, organizations have canceled events at the hotel, including the Motion Picture & Television Fund's annual "Night Before the Oscars" charity event and the Feminist Majority Foundation's annual Global Women's Rights Awards.

Gay rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday called on the hotel's owner to stop promoting special services at the hotel for same-sex weddings, now legal in California.

"This is the height of hypocrisy, and we must ensure that profits from LGBT weddings in the U.S. stop going to a regime that could soon start executing its LGBT citizens," the group's president Chad Griffin said in a statement.

The Beverly Hills Hotel and nearby Hotel Bel-Air are part of the Dorchester Collection of luxury hotels that are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Brunei government.

Christopher Cowdray, the chief executive of the London-based Dorchester Collection, said those protesting have ignored local hotels owned by countries with poor human rights records and that a boycott would ultimately hurt the local economy most.

"There are other hotel companies in this city that are owned by Saudi Arabia ... you know, your shirt probably comes from a country which has human rights issues," said Cowdray from Beverly Hills.

(Reporting by Dana Feldman, Eric Kelsey and Colin Sims; Editing by Eric M. Johnson, Mary Milliken, Eric Walsh and Michael Perry)

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Hello May 07 2014 at 1:06 PM

and yet, this ******* defends Michael Vick..

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wolfstarmt May 07 2014 at 1:00 PM

HOW DARE AMERICANS BE IN AN UPROAR....mabye this should have all be thought out before the greedy AMERICANS sold so much of this country to foreign interests. It is unbelievable that we put our hand out to take money from OTHER COUNTRIES, but never once take a minute to realize we are selling out country OUT and thereby stop complaining OR START BUYING IT BACK AMERICA.

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1 reply
Angela wolfstarmt May 07 2014 at 1:17 PM

You are absolutely correct.......America began selling off business and shipping jobs over seas a long time ago. It would blow our minds to know just how many cooperations, hotels & retails that have foreign owners who have ancient ideas and no regard to human rights of any kind. I commend their cause but while they are at it, do the reseach and make it public of all the other companies doing business here with views & laws against humanity like Burnei. we not not to spend our money with these companies.

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Ken May 07 2014 at 12:58 PM

Good man Jay.
Too many cowardly politically correct politicians on both sides of the aisle to confront this grim reality that is in the process of rearing it's ugly head in America.

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islamforrlife May 07 2014 at 12:57 PM

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. -Bible John 8:3-11

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1 reply
silkroadg islamforrlife May 07 2014 at 1:02 PM

Well...................lets do what the Muslims do................CUT OFF THEIR HEADS!!!

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Jim May 07 2014 at 12:57 PM

Sharia law has been worming its' way through out the entire United States for several years now. If you, for one moment, think that this is just an attempt to exclude "religous belief' of someone, YOU ARE TOTALLY WRONG! Sharia Law is exactly opposite of everything the United States has stood for since its' inception and that is FREEDOM. SHARIA Law has NO FREEDOM, especially for women! Only men have rights........Read up on their past and beliefs and what the have done in other countires and not just this recent issue in Africa.............Sharia is where the most violent Muslim Jihadists come out of. If you have ANY religous belief different of theirs, they believe death is what you deserve! If you are Gay, Lesbian, Feminist, Redneck, Radical, Conservative, or any other different walk of life that makes this country so UNIQUE and STRONG.....They believe Death is what you deserve! Their SHARIA not only supports it but DEMANDS it! Wake up AMERICA BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE...........

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1 reply
trylife2 Jim May 07 2014 at 1:15 PM

You are exactly right. If you do not believe in Islam then you are an infidel and will be eliminated. That is why Israel has been targeted for years to be driven into the sea.They believe this is their duty and believe that killing infidels gets them into their version of Heaven. I am talking about radical Islam here.

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irishblueileen May 07 2014 at 12:57 PM

I first heard of Brunei years ago when the Sultan was trafficking young girls to his harem and keeping them against their will. I'm just curious. I wonder how many properties in the US are owned by individuals or countries with human rights abuses? You gotta start somewhere. Brunei is as good a place as any.

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1 reply
silkroadg irishblueileen May 07 2014 at 1:04 PM

Don't forget, ISLAM IS THE RELIGION OF PEACE, so certainly the Sultan was only helping those young girls with their homework. Now, if the Sultan were a Catholic priest, why Mr. Obama's Media Machine would be DEMANDING JUSTICE for those innocents.

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cabindelight May 07 2014 at 12:56 PM

If only the world would believe the first commandment the last nine would be able to honor in Jesus name who is mercy and love.

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Erbie's May 07 2014 at 12:56 PM

Why? I mean if Burnnei or however it is spelled wants Islamic law, let them have at it. Their American property, well Leno should just tell Americans what is going on and maybe just maybe no one will go there, end of conversation. If they keep coming, then that should be looked at first, what kind of people keep them open, Leno's friends! And that should be a spreading thing, you know like, Canada, France, England, Germany, Mexico, etc. etc, etc. Break the kings budget so he can't afford all those Rolls Royces and he'll get the message naturally.

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blueeyessing May 07 2014 at 12:56 PM

"The Beverly Hills Hotel and nearby Hotel Bel-Air are part of the Dorchester Collection of luxury hotels that are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Brunei government."
Well Hollywood and Beverly Hills sold their property to the highest bidder apparently. Money talks. It will be difficult now to back-pedal and people's lives and income are on the line.

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newmarket2014 May 07 2014 at 12:56 PM

Any "straight" protests in this city? It seems that the only way to get your point across is to get some GAY liberal celebrities and feminists out there - this whole city is going GAY! Time to move to Texas where the men are men and the women are women!

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