Christians vow to perform their Christmas services despite threats from Islamic hardliners

Amid a series of intolerant acts, including intimidation, by Islamic hardliners, Christian groups have said that they will celebrate Christmas as usual and will not bow to the pressure, the Jakarta Post Online reported on Saturday.

The Gereja Kemah Abraham (GKA) church, whose congregation performs its religious activities in a hall in the ITC Permara Hijau shopping centre in South Jakarta, said they would not change their Christmas service schedule.

GKA secretary Sozawato Telaumbanua told The Jakarta Post on Friday that GKA and other churches had been coordinating with the police to ensure the security of the services it is going to hold, including the Christmas Eve service on December 24 and New Year’s Day service on January 1.

Business operators in Jakarta also made similar statements. The management of Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, for instance, said the hotel would promote tolerance by running its business as usual and decorating its building in a Christmas theme as it did for all major religious occasions.

In the past week, Indonesia has seen two incidents where Islamic hardliners intimidated people from other religious groups and forced them to give in to their demands.

Last Tuesday, an Islamic hardline group calling themselves the Ahlu Sunnah Defenders forced a Christian community to cancel a Christmas service at the Sasana Budaya Ganesha, a popular auditorium in Bandung. The protesters stormed into the building and broke up the service, claiming that the event is illegal.