Islamic Defenders Front promises no attacks in Indonesia during Christmas
JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Rizieq Shihab, head of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), on Tuesday promised that his followers will restrain from disrupting Christmas celebrations in Indonesia.
Shibab’s announcement came as a surprise as FPI has been behind attacks on churches and minority sects in the past years. The Islamic leader now said, however, that Christians should be allowed to celebrate their holidays in peace.
“I think, let Christians celebrate Christmas in merriment and happiness. That is their right of worship, right of faith that should be respected by the entire Indonesian nation,” said Shibab, according to the Jakarta Globe.
However, Shibab said that the celebrations must be conducted according to procedures and rules and without prompting controversy. The FPI leader referred to the SKB, the joint ministerial decree that regulates the building of houses of worship.
The SKB regulation demands that houses of worship should be built in areas where the religion is the most dominant. Shibab called on the Indonesian Bishop’s Council and the Indonesian Church Union to follow the SKB.
Rights activists have voiced their opposition towards the SKB regulation. They claim that it is discriminative and restricts the right to worship. The construction of a house of worship requires the approvals from both residents and officials.
Ramlan Hutahaean, national secretary general for the Batak Christian Churches (HKBP), said that he expects peace and restriction from the FPI not only during Christmas but throughout the year.
“I don’t think there’s anything controversial during Christmas. It’s a celebration of peace. From his statement it seems that he simply does not want his Christian brothers to celebrate Christmas,” said Hutahaen.
Indonesia is an Islam-majority country, and attacks against Christians and their places of worship are not uncommon. Police informed that between 10,000 and 20,000 personnel would be deployed to safeguard churches during Christmas and New Year.
Last week, on Tuesday, two individuals hurled Molotov cocktails against the Jesus The King Catholic Church in Sukoharjo, Solo. And several days earlier, on Sunday, shorts were fired at the Indonesia Muria Christian Church in the same city.
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