A street vendor ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Jakarta Feb. 17, 2015. The Chinese Lunar New Year on Feb. 19 will welcome the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram). (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Religion Minister Calls for Tolerance as Indonesia Celebrates Chinese New Year

FEBRUARY 19, 2015

Jakarta. Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin wished Indonesians a prosperous Chinese New Year on Thursday, urging that celebrations be allowed to take place with tolerance.

"I think our society has already been shown to be tolerant, even though there are many religious communities who do not accustom themselves to Imlek," said Lukman, referring to the Lunar New Year by its Indonesian name.

Lukman was speaking at a national meeting of the United Development Party (PPP), as quoted by new portal Tempo.co.

Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Unggung Chayono said he was deploying more than 3,000 officers to boost security in the city as people welcomed in the year of the ram from Wednesday evening to Friday.

Chinese New Year was made a national holiday by former president Megawati Sukarnoputri in 2002.