A police officer sweeps the Jakarta Cathedral on Saturday (24/12) ahead of Christmas celebrations. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Bandung Church Celebrates Christmas After Previous Shut Down


DECEMBER 24, 2016

Jakarta. A 2,000 strong Christmas celebration in Bandung, West Java, went ahead Friday (23/12) at the city's Sasana Budaya Ganesha building without interruption amid tense religious intolerance issues.

The congregation, led by Reverend Stephen Tong, did not display banners for the event and doubled security following the disruption of a similar event earlier this month by a hardline Islamic group.

Dozens of police were posted at the event with attendees asked to show identification and media banned from entering the building.

A statement from the church claimed this year's Christmas message is not related to seasonal ornaments, such as Santa Claus, and the holiday should be commemorated as a day in which humanity celebrates love.

“It is the real meaning of Christmas,” Pastor Stephen Tong said in the statement on Friday.

Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil also attended the celebration and gave a short speech.

“In this country, there should be no citizens afraid of practicing their faith. Every Bandung resident, West Java resident, has basic rights in [practicing] religion. I call on all Bandung and West Java residents to put forward tolerance, and leave any [settlements of] differences to law enforcers or the government,” Ridwan said.

West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan and Siliwangi Military District commander Maj. Gen. Muhammad Herindra also attended the celebrations.