Search AOL Mail
AOL Mail
AOL Favorites

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)

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
JEZ May 07 2014 at 9:51 AM

that's what happens when American land / buildings are sold to foreigners.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
3 replies
dtoigo May 07 2014 at 10:11 AM

The problem with muslims, islam in general and most religions is they have their heads so far up a dark hole that they are totally removed from humanity and reality. Stupid, stupid, ignorant people.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
chrisl44chris dtoigo May 07 2014 at 10:15 AM

What is stupid and ignorant is paining all religions and their followers with a broad brush awhole

Flag Reply +2 rate up
josb866161 dtoigo May 07 2014 at 10:52 AM

You are insulting to a whole lot of people all around the world. That is ignorant.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
rrosemei May 07 2014 at 10:10 AM

I agree with the Holywood effort. Barbaric approach to life is far over!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
J`FAR S.A.B.N.W. rrosemei May 07 2014 at 10:12 AM

Corporal punishment is far more human than prisons as well as far more effective in preventing crime.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
3 replies
Hey Emily May 07 2014 at 10:09 AM

Get Jay a job!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
bray14lc May 07 2014 at 10:09 AM

So they don't like gays. Finally someone that owns a hotel makes a stand against rainbow warriors.. Go for them. Not everyone need to accept gays.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
6 replies
ltosborn May 07 2014 at 10:09 AM

No one should be able to purchase property in America unless they are a citizen.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
matty4849 ltosborn May 07 2014 at 10:22 AM

We have many Americans owning properties in foreign countries . Financial transactions have no boundaries . What an unintelligent statement u made.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
josb866161 ltosborn May 07 2014 at 10:35 AM

Whole heartedly agree, . There are many companies that are foreign owned, in the United States. Anyone who says it creates jobs need to look closer. For instance, it may be car assembly plant, but the parts are not necessarily made here. I know this because I worked for a foundry that made car parts. This foundry had been in business for over 70 years, so they were not a fly by night company. A foreign car plant, a few miles away, brought parts across the water, rather than use our parts. At one time, we were making parts for a "Ford/Europe" project, and Ford had to insist that a certain percent of the parts would be made in the USA, or they would all have come by boat. Even with all that, I still blame the greed of people at the top of our companies, and stock holders for selling us out for their “World Economy”. They only care about their bottom line getting larger, and not our country’s economy. This has been going on for many years and the results are evident to anyone with eyes.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
jmuroskyeyc May 07 2014 at 10:08 AM

Just one more reason not to let foreign investors take over our country and businesses. Abide by our laws and freedoms or you can't own businesses in the United States....

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
J`FAR S.A.B.N.W. jmuroskyeyc May 07 2014 at 10:15 AM

It's unconstitutional to force a buisiness owner to take part in the immorality of fornication and adultery,

Flag Reply 0 rate up
lbrady1234 jmuroskyeyc May 07 2014 at 10:16 AM

It;s not OUR laws that Brunei is not abiding by that is the problem the protestors have. It's the laws they came up with for their own country that got the Hollywood freaks upset!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
integr8er May 07 2014 at 10:11 AM

Liberals can't figure out if they love the Muslims or hate them

Flag Reply +5 rate up
3 replies
billshcc May 07 2014 at 10:11 AM


Flag Reply +1 rate up
Hello beautiful May 07 2014 at 10:07 AM

And I thought liberals were so accepting of EVERYONE. Hmm....not everyone is so great after all, libs.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
5 replies
aol~~ 1209600


More From Our Partners