Christmas Eve celebrations across the archipelago were peacefully celebrated, with some churches graced by the visit of high ranking officials.
Jakarta, GIVnews.com – Christians in Indonesia celebrated their Christmas Eve peacefully while the event was specially marked with the visits of well-placed government and security officials.
Security was tight at a number of churches in several cities, involving police and military officers.
In Jakarta, Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama on Thursday evening (24/12) came to three Protestant and Catholic churches in East and Central Jakarta.
He traveled to those places by bus and joining him included Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, Jakarta Military Commander Mj. Gen. Theddy Laksamana, and Vice Marshal Agus Dwi Putranto, the operational commander of the Air Force.
At the Catholic cathedral, Governor Ahok got into the building only when the Christmas Eve holy mass was about to start. After struggling about 20 minutes to reach the rostrum near the altar, the perspiring Ahok delivered a short speech to the congregation.
“I wish a Merry Christmas to all of you,” he said. The governor also asked the congregation to pray for the Jakarta city and to thank God for giving them Indonesia where Christmas could be celebrated like what happened at the cathedral that night.
Then, again, the governor could not easily get out of the cathedral because so many well-wishers wanted to shake hands or take a selfie with him.
Also in Jakarta, National Police Chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti and Armed Forces Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo visited several churches in South Jakarta.
At 9.50 pm, they arrived at GKI Kebayoran Baru Church where a group of congregation members were making preparations for their Christmas Eve celebration. Immediately after entering the church, the national police chief went around the hall for security checking.
To church leaders who received them on the occasion Badrodin Haiti said, “Hold your prayer meeting smoothly. So far there have not been any constraints… I see the security here is good enough.”
Meanwhile in Aceh, Indonesia’s western-most province, Christmas Eve services at area churches also went smoothly.
As reported by Antara News, about 7,000 police officers were specially deployed to safeguard Christmas Eve prayer meetings in different parts of the region.
Aceh Police Chief Insp. Gen. Iskandar Hasan said, “Up to this night I have not got any report about security troubles. This is because we had more early instructed police members to be on alert.”
And in Bali, Governor I Made Mangku Pastika, accompanied by Bali Military Commander Maj. Gen. M. Setyo Sularso and Bali Police Chief Insp. Gen. Sugeng Priyanto, visited several churches in Denpasar and in its surrounds. At least 100 police and military officers safeguarded Christmas Eve celebrations at each of the religious buildings.
Meanwhile, Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) said on Tuesday that Muslims are allowed to say Merry Christmas to Christians.
“Just do it if they feel they need to do it… It is a symbol of sympathy as fellow human beings,” Din Syamsuddin said as quoted by Tempo.co.
Currently, some Muslims still hold that Muslims are not allowed to extend their Christmas greetings to Christians.