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May 9, 2014 2:18 pm

Jewish Home for Elderly Joins Boycott of Sultan of Brunei’s Beverly Hills Hotel

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Beverly Hills Hotel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Reseda-based Jewish Home for the Aging has joined a protest against harsh new laws imposed in the southeast Asian state of Brunei by boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is controlled by the country’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Los Angeles Daily News reported on Thursday.

The Los Angeles Jewish Home is moving its annual Legacy Circle Luncheon from the Hotel to the nearby Beverly Wilshire Hotel, according to marketing director Bonnie Polishuk.

Brunei, which owns the Beverly Hills Hotel through an investment group, recently adopted the Islamic Shariah penal code. It calls for punishing adultery, abortions and homosexuality with flogging, stoning and other harsh penalties, according to the Daily News.

The move triggered calls for anti-Brunei boycotts from the Beverly Hills City Council, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and celebrities such as Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, among others.

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The Motion Picture & Television Fund announced it will no longer hold its annual Night Before the Oscar party at the hotel as it has for many years, and business tycoon Richard Branson said his company Virgin Group and its 50,000 employees will not stay at the hotel.

The boycott has also been applied to the Hotel Bel-Air, which is also part of the Dorchester Collection of hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a division of the country’s Ministry of Finance. The two hotels employ an estimated 875 workers, the  Daily News said.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and some Los Angeles City Council members said they refuse to attend events at the two hotels, and the city of Beverly Hills called for them to be sold.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said last week that the adoption of Shariah was a “great achievement” for his country.

“The decision to implement the (Shariah penal code) is not for fun but is to obey Allah’s command as written in the Quran,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Christopher Cowdray, chief executive officer of the Dorchester Collection, said the company understands the public’s concern, but does not believe a boycott should be directed at the hotels.

“The economic impact of this not only affects our loyal team members but extends to the local community, our valued partners and suppliers,” he said in a written statement. “Today’s global economy needs to be placed in a broader perspective. Most of us are not aware of the investors behind the brands that have become an integral part of our everyday life, from the gas we put in our cars, to the clothes we wear, to the way we use social media, and to the hotels we frequent.”

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