Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Russian aid convoy drives into Ukraine

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Gunmen kill scores in Iraqi Sunni mosque attack

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Americas

Stars protest outside Brunei-owned hotel in Beverly Hills

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-07

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 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.

The city, which is in Los Angeles County, passed a resolution that 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.

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.

Emotions high

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 US 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.

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.

Same-sex weddings

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 US stop going to a regime that could soon start executing its LGBT citizens," the group's president Chad Griffin said in a statement.

“No @virgin employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights," Branson, the British billionaire who owns Virgin Airlines, posted on Twitter.

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.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-05-07

  • On The Observers

    Islamists in northern Mali execute one of their own under Sharia law

    Read more

COMMENT(S)