Jakarta (Agenzia Fies) - "Christians and non-Christians are called to promote peace in Indonesia": with this exhortation, along with the traditional Christmas greetings, the new Minister of Religious Affairs, the Muslim Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, appointed on 22 December, addressed the Christian population of the archipelago. Qoumas is president of the organization "Anshor and Banser", a widespread Muslim youth social organization, affiliated with the Muslim movement "Nahdlatul Ulama", the largest in Indonesia, with more than 60 million members.
The Minister underlined that "Christmas, with its message of hope, joy and happiness, will always accompany everyone to lift the spirit and create a life of peace and harmony in the diversity of Indonesia".
Popularly called Gus Yaqut, the new Minister wanted to remind "all those who are experiencing difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all over the world" and added: "Jesus is Emmanuel, which means God-with-us. This means that even in difficult moments, the presence of God, who is always with us, guides and helps us".
He then commented: "Our goal is to create a better world, one that is peaceful, just and harmonious and a world free from violence, oppression and war. We want to work so that human beings live in brotherhood, love each other and do good deeds together for the sake of human happiness. These are the essential ideals that must be present in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ", he added.
As Indonesia is a pluralist nation, made up of various ethnicities, religions, languages and cultures, Gus Yaqut said, "there is no other way to approach diversity than by building mutual respect and esteem together. The diversity of the nation must be approached with gratitude, as a wealth and as a gift from God himself", inviting all Indonesians to live with this approach the cultural and religious pluralism of the nation. Addressing Christians, he urged them to "participate actively in society ", helping to create "an atmosphere of peace and harmony while continuing to support the government for the development of Indonesia".
The Minister of Religious Affairs made his first visit to the Christian community by participating in a Christmas celebration at the Immanuel Christian Church in the city of Semarang, Central Java province on Thursday 24 December. On that occasion he remarked that he wanted to be "minister of religious affairs for all religions, not just for one faith". Yaqut sent a message to all Indonesian religious communities, inviting them "to make religion a source of inspiration, a source of peace and to spread mutual love".
The Minister's debut was appreciated by the Indonesian faithful: "I saw and listened to the message from the Minister of Religious Affairs. His speech is full of evangelical messages", said to Fides Yunus Eko Saputro, religion teacher in Semarang .
The national government has deployed thousands of security officers to all churches in the country for Christmas and the deployment will continue until New Year. In some places, Christian and Muslim volunteers also join security forces to protect churches. Christmas was celebrated peacefully and there were no terrorist attacks against churches, as happened in some episodes in the past. (ES-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/12/2020)