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

Christians Celebrate Christmas Eve Safely Amid Heightened Tensions


DECEMBER 25, 2016

Jakarta. Millions of Christians across the country safely celebrated Christmas Eve on Saturday (24/12) with many regional administration heads paid visit to local churches to ensure the safety and security.

There were no reports of disruption during the Christmas Eve across the country as Christians attended evening prayer ahead of Sunday’s celebration.

A number of high-ranking government officials, including Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, Military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, visited several churches in Jakarta to inspect security efforts during the Christmas Eve prayer.

“The police and military personnel have worked day and nights to secure the Christmas celebrations. I have received reports from all regional police chiefs that said there has been no incident that disrupts the Christmas celebration,” top cop Tito told reporters at the Jakarta Cathedral.

However, he noted police have set a standby status for Central Java after the recent arrests of several terrorists to anticipate possibilities of attacks.

During the visit to HKBP Church on Jalan Jambu in Menteng, Tjahjo delivered a Christmas greeting to all Christians in the country on behalf of the government.

“Merry Christmas! Peace in the world, peace in Indonesia,” Tjahjo said in his remarks. “It is the diversity of religions, races and groups that made the Republic of Indonesia exist,” he added.

Separately, Arya Bima, the mayor of West Java’s Bogor, also visited the four churches along with Bogor City Council Speaker Untung W. Maryono, Administration Secretary Ade Sarip Hidayat and Bogor Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Suyudi Aria Seto.

During the visit, Arya greeted the Christians of having a great Christmas and hope the celebration would bring peace to all around the world.

He also expressed hopes to maintain religious harmony and tolerance in the city. “Diversity is a necessity. We must maintain the unity and solidarity,” Arya said after visiting the Bogor HKBP Church on Jalan Pengadilan in Bogor.