PROTESTORS have besieged the iconic Beverley Hills Hotel in LA over recent days in response to the owner of the hotel, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, planning to implement Sharia Law in his south-east Asian kingdom in the past week.

 The law change, which heavily targets women and enforces the death penalty for acts of adultery and homosexuality in the small enclave on the island of Borneo, has provoked controversy over recent days with celebrities such as Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, Sir Richard Branson and Stephen Fry and more calling for boycotts of the Beverley Hills Hotel and other assets owned by Sultan.

This has been reinforced with the television network HBO chief executive Richard Pleper saying that “it’s beyond contemptible” that such laws are being enforced by the hotel’s owner according to the New York Timesand the both he and others from his company “will be staying elsewhere. It’s that simple.”

The Beverley Hills Hotel, which is owned as a part of the Sultan’s Dorchester Collection of hotels and resorts, has been a prominent part of the Hollywood landscape with both celebrities, royalty and world leaders having stayed there since it was first opened in 1912. Throughout that time it has developed a cult following by Los Angeles residents, while in recent years it has also hosted same-sex marriage ceremonies.

During a speech to protestors earlier this week, the former host of The Tonight Show Jay Leno noted that while Californians had recently been absorbed in the controversy surrounding the racist remarks of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his lifetime ban from the NBA, the Brunei’s adherence to Sharia Law was far more serious.

“I mean, we get so upset when a team owner says something inappropriate,” Leno said to the crowd according to media reports from the Los Angeles Times.

“The Beverly Hills Hotel is like the Clippers; the Sultan of Brunei is like Donald Sterling. Does that make it clear?”

“Here are people being killed, stoned to death …. It’s just a matter of priorities, that’s what it is.”

The Beverly Hills City Council also called for new ownership of the hotel last week in reaction to the implementation of Sharia Law in Brunei by The Beverley Hills Hotel’s owner, with Mayor Lili Bosse stating that it was the council’s wish that both the hotel and the Beverley Hills area “not be tarnished by the Brunei government’s actions.”

However, in a statement from Dorchester Collection chief executive Christopher Cowdray, he said that the boycott of The Beverley Hills Hotel would only hurt the local community due to the lost revenue that would come from the actions against the hotel’s owner.

“We believe the Beverly Hills City Council resolution unfairly targets The Beverly Hills Hotel and its 650 employees, and this has resulted in a boycott,” he said.

“Many iconic American brands across a wide variety of industries—hotels, real estate, consumer products, luxury goods, technology, and others — are backed by countries governed by Sharia and not aligned with our civil liberties. Many of these companies are in our own back yard.”

“Against this backdrop, we question why The Beverly Hills Hotel is being singled out.”

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