Indonesia Muslims Protect Churches During Xmas Mass
As Indonesian Christian minority prepared themselves for Christmas celebrations, the world’s biggest Muslim organization is deploying millions of volunteers to protect Christians and churches across the country during the Christmas mass, The Jakarta Post reported on Thursday, December 22.
“This is our way of showing our commitment to making sure that those values are well preserved within the milieu of differences in unity,” said H.M. Nuruzzaman, deputy secretary-general Nahdlatul Ulama (Ansor).
“We have coordinated with the local police for the purpose,” he said.
Nahdlatul Ulama is the biggest Muslim organization in Indonesia, with estimated members of 30 millions. Nuruzzaman said a total of 2.6 million out of the organization’s members had been prepared for the deployment.
In Cirebon and the surrounding regions alone, 25,000 of the organization’s members would be deployed to guard churches during Christmas celebrations.
There are 22 churches in Cirebon municipality and 12 others in the neighboring Cirebon regency to guard.
According to Nuruzzaman, the 2.6 million members are those who joined the organization’s Banser auxiliary trained force and have undergone physical training for multipurpose activities including religious and social ones.
“Any religious community, not only Christians, can also ask for our security help,” he said.
The security help for Christians is not new in the world’s most populous Muslim country.
In the past years, churches were protected by Muslim volunteers against militant attacks.
The move came after a deadly 19 people were killed and scores injured in a series of attacks on churches on Christmas Eve in 2000.
The security help offer was not limited to Nahdlatul Ulama as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) vowed not to disturb Christmas celebrations on December 25.
“It is haram [forbidden] to bad-mouth and insult other religions. We should not make any form of disturbance for people of other religions,” Habib Rizieq Shihab, the FPI leader told the Jakarta Post.
“Let the Christians believe that their religion is the absolute truth and let Muslims believe that Islam is the absolute truth,” he added.
Shihab said the FPI was even ready to help the government safeguard Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Such help would be offered by the group’s members anytime the police needs it, he added.
“Every year, the FPI has always been told to help maintain security and public order in the city,” Rizieq said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.
“We are ready 24 hours-a-day,” said Rizieq.
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.