Jakarta preps for peaceful Christmas celebrations

id Christmas, Jakarta, Medan,Batam

Jakarta preps for peaceful Christmas celebrations

A choir wearing Christmas hats performed a Christmas carol on a sidewalk in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel near the iconic Roundabout of Central Jakarta on Wednesday (Dec 18, 2019). ANTARA PHOTO/Galih Pradipta

Bogor, W Java (ANTARA) - Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, is readying for this year's Christmas celebrations by facilitating its public sphere along the Thamrin-Sudirman Road with live performances of Christmas carols from Dec 18 to Dec 20.

During those days, passersby on the road can halt momentarily and watch several men and women in Christmas hats belt out outdoor performances of Christmas carols at 11 select locations.

On Wednesday (Dec 18), a man led a group of men and women wearing Christmas hats that performed a Christmas carol on a sidewalk in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel near the iconic Roundabout of Central Jakarta and was published by local news outlets.

In addition to the sidewalk in front of the luxurious hotel, the people are able to watch the Christmas carols, scheduled to be performed from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. local time, at 10 other locations, including the Kendal Street Tunnel and Dukuh Atas Park.

Under the leadership of Governor Anies Baswedan, widely known as a Muslim nationalist and grandson of Indonesia's national hero Abdurrahman Baswedan (AR Baswedan), the capital city administration also enlivens this religious festival with Christmas ornaments.

A Christmas tree, for instance, is installed at a certain area of Thamrin Street from Dec 18 to Dec 31, 2019. The Jakarta provincial administration has published it on its official Twitter account to make the public aware of this program.

Under Baswedan's leadership, the Jakarta government has fairly demonstrated its genuine care for the interests of all residents hailing from different religious, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds for the sake of justice for all.

However, Jakarta is not the only city in Indonesia that is bracing for this year's Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations.

Several other cities and towns, particularly those whose populations are dominated by Christians, across the archipelago, are also bracing for this religious festival.

The police across the country have also been ready to secure the religious festival, according to Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD.

"Our police are ready, and Insya Allah (God willing), our people will celebrate Christmas and New Year in a tranquil and peaceful manner," he told journalists after meeting with National Police Chief, General Idham Azis, recently.

The police will conduct a so-called "Operasi Lilin" (Operation Candle) as part of the efforts to secure the Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, he stated.

National Police Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Argo Yuwono, revealed earlier that "Operasi Lilin" and several other programs will be conducted by the police to ensure public security at various locations, including houses of worship, shopping malls, and recreation sites.

Ahead of the Christmas celebrations, the North Sumatra police have deployed 1,200 personnel, while the Indonesian military (TNI) dispatched 200 personnel to secure churchgoers keen on partaking in congregations at churches.

"With this solid synergy, this year's Christmas celebrations will run peacefully," Medan City Police Chief Sen. Coms. Dadang Hartanto remarked, adding that the police and TNI officers had coordinated with the authorities of several churches in the city for security reasons.

In securing the city, the police and TNI personnel will be assisted by some 100 officers of the Medan Public Order Agency (Satpol PP). The church leaders were also expected to activate their respective internal security systems, he stated.

In Batam, Riau Islands Police Chief Inspector General Andap Budhi Revianto conducted a bike patrol around the city on December 15 to observe the readiness of his men in securing this year's Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations.

Rainfall continued during the bike patrol around the city. However, Revianto, in the company of several top officers of the Riau Islands provincial police, went beyond the realm of his visit to greet the on-duty policemen.

Revianto expressed keenness to send a simple message to the on-duty police officers serving the public to express his support to them regardless of the condition.

Jakarta, Medan, and Batam are among the Indonesian cities that had borne witness to a spate of bombing attacks targeting churches on December 24, 2000.

On November 13, 2019, a suicide bomber detonated a homemade bomb that he had carried to the yard of the Medan City Police Headquarters. The attacker died during the blast that injured six people.

Meanwhile, a terrorism expert has called on counterterrorism agencies in Indonesia to remain alert and focus on any potential terror threat during the Christmas and New Year's Eve holiday season until the first month of 2020.

Precautionary measures should be extended while drawing reference to the terrorist attack on Thamrin Street in Central Jakarta on January 14, 2016, Habib had noted on December 4.

The terrorist attack on January 14, 2016, exposed the fact that such an incident took place after security agencies might have lowered their vigil. Hence, counterterrorism agencies should not merely focus on December 25 and 31, and January 1.

Habib noted that the extended period to stay alert to any potential threat of a terror attack was deemed necessary since the attack patterns of the terrorists might have also changed.

He forecast that the terror attacks could potentially take place from December 2019 to January 2020, though the patterns could slightly change from the previous years.

No religion justifies acts of terrorism for any reason. Islam, as a religion of peace, also rejects any act of terror against innocent civilians as revealed in the holy Qur'an.

The Qur'an says: "Who so ever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind" (5:32).
 
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Editor: Achmad Zaenal M
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