MADIUN, East Java - Providing a tolerant and peaceful atmosphere for Christians to celebrate their religious occasion, Muslim youth in the Indonesian city of Madiun have guarded churches during Christmas Mass.
[It is] an example of tolerance in our region, Dedi Subarno, a member of the Islamic Youth Movement (Gerakan Pemuda Islam), told Khabar Southeast Asia website on Tuesday, January 8.Cooperating with other Muslim youth, Subarno surrounded churches and hotels in Madiun, East Java, during Christmas mass.
Indonesia Muslims Protect Xmas Mass
Indonesia Muslims Protect Churches on Xmas
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7.
Serving as a member of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, Subarno opines that it is everyone's responsibility to keep the community safe, especially for minorities.
I have been active in these kinds of efforts for years, Subarno told Khabar.
My job and my commitment all are aimed at protecting the minority.
Along with groups from the Islamic Youth Movement, police forces kept a vigilant eye on the security situation, deploying about 400 personnel to ward off any attacks by militants.
We realized that many threats can happen during this religious holiday, Police Commissioner Adjutant Baru Sutrisno said.
Therefore, we responded with increased security.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.
Christians, both Protestants and Catholics, make up nearly 12 percent of the country's population.
In the past years, Muslims have provided protection to churches during Christmas celebrations.
The move came after 19 people were killed and scores injured in a series of attacks on churches on Christmas Eve in 2000.
Celebrating Christmas peacefully, Indonesian Christians expressed gratitude to Muslim youth for providing a tolerant and secure atmosphere.
The security provided by the police and Islamic organizations made me feel safe and comfortable while worshiping, said Veronica Kristiana, a 27-year-old local church member.
I loved seeing all the people get together like this.
Christmas brings a message of peace and brotherhood. Hopefully, harmony will continue to improve in our region, she said.
The interfaith relations go both ways.
During Ramadan last year, Christian churches in Madiun held special programs, offering free food and medical service to the poor, in an effort to build bridges across religious lines.
Reiterating mutual cooperation between Indonesia Muslims and Christians, Ali Syukur Soleh, a member of the city's Religious Communication Forum said militants do not differentiate between Muslims and Christians in their attacks.
There's no point in doing terror, either at Christmas or New Year's, now or at any other time, Soleh said.
Radicalism, whatever its form, including terrorism, will only damages the name of religion (referring to Islam).
Edwin Suswanto, the Director of the Inter-Church Consultative Body in Madiun, called on Indonesians to make a real commitment to tolerance.
Let's put behind what happened in the past when several terrorist suspects were arrested in Madiun, Suswanto said.I hope the atmosphere in Madiun continues to improve; safe, peaceful, people united in harmony and prosperity.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net