The Council of Churches in Indonesia has opposed a Christmas event organised by Jakarta’s new Islamist governor, reports Asia News.
Anies Baswedan had invited Christians to the ‘Celebration of Christmas’ being held at the National Monument (Monas), a tower in central Jakarta that symbolises the country’s struggle for independence. Monas had been used as a venue for many Islamic events and celebrations until the Chinese Christian former governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as Ahok), decided it should become a neutral public space.
When Ahok, who was jailed for blasphemy in May 2017, was replaced by Baswedan, the incoming governor reversed the ruling and allowed and participated in a rally that marked one year since a mass protest called for Ahok’s removal.
So Christians suspect the governor has ulterior motives for the Christmas event, some saying it is an attempt to win their vote.
“We must make sure that Monas remains a national monument where the spirit of unity among the different Indonesian peoples can show itself,” said Manuel Raintung, head of the Jakarta branch of the Council of Churches, in a statement which condemned the use of religion for political ends.
Archbishop of Jakarta, Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, agreed, saying that a celebration of Christmas “should not involve any political figure, neither as an organiser nor as a guest”.