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France’s Femina literary prize boycotts hotel over Brunei sharia law

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Sultan Hasanal Bolkiah of Brunei Reuters/Ahim Rani/Files

The all-woman jury of France’s prestigious Prix Femina has decided to not to stage its awards ceremony at a luxury hotel owned by the Sultan of Brunei because he is introducing sharia law in his tiny country.


The Prix Femina, which was founded in 1904, has a jury exclusively composed of women but awards its prize regardless of the author’s gender. 

Women's rights in France - given or taken?

The ceremony takes place on the first Wednesday of November every year.

With its usual venue, the swish Hôtel Crillon on Paris’s Place de la Concorde, closed for refurbishing, this year’s ceremony was due to take place at the equally fancy Hôtel Meurice, part of Dorchester Collection of hotels owned be the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei.

But in April the sultan announced a phased introduction of Islamic sharia law in Brunei.

That sparked an international boycott campaign, which has attracted support from celebrities and businesses opposed to such measures as flogging for women who have undergone an abortion and for the drinking alcohol, amputation for theft and stoning for other offences, including adultery and homosexuality.

In a statement Thursday the Prix Femina announced it was scrapping its booking at the Meurice in protest at the sharia decision.