Muslims help with Christmas celebrations in Indonesia

By staff writers
December 27, 2006

Christmas celebrations for Christians went off peacefully across the majority Islamic nation of Indonesia - with the help of Muslim organizations.

People of the two faiths worked together to thwart the threat of attacks from Islamic hard-liners. Many Muslims attended Christmas Mass in Jakarta Cathedral as well as a Protestant service at nearby Immanuel Church.

They included leaders of the Nahdlatul Ulama and the Muslim United Organization (MUO), two of the most influential Muslim organizations in the country.

Muslim United Organization coordinator Andi Muhammad Soleh said more than 1,500 MUO members patrolled Christian places of worship to prevent attacks.

The governor of Jakartam Sutiyoso spent Christmas night monitoring the situation in the capital. He commented: "I am happy everything went on calmly and in peace."

Police supervisor Ketut Untung Yoga Ana told agencies that "more than 20,000 officers were on alert to monitor celebrations for Christmas, the Idul Haj and the New Year."

Many thousands of Catholics attended mass in the church of the Blessed Virgin Mother of Christ in Wedi Parishd, Java, in spite of the heavy rains.

In Yogyakarta, eastern Java, throngs attended an open-air mass at Tritis shrine which was broadcast live on a local television station.

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