Jakarta provincial government to allow Christmas event at National Monument

Indonesia’s National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta. Photo: Coconuts Media
Indonesia’s National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta. Photo: Coconuts Media

After Governor Anies Baswedan overturned the ban on Monas (National Monument) being used for religious and political events and allowed the 212 anti-Ahok “grand reunion” to take place over the weekend (which he opened with a speech), there’s only one thing he can do from now on regarding requests from followers of other faiths who want to use the space for their events: approve them.

True enough, Anies said yesterday that Christians will have Monas for themselves for one day in order to celebrate Christmas this year.

“I don’t know the exact date yet. But we will hold an activity to celebrate Christmas together,” Anies said, as quoted by Metro TV.

Anies added that he is still in discussions with the leaders of many Christian organizations in the city to determine the date of the event.

“I suggested that it should be held right around Christmas day. But they (organization leaders) suggested some time in January because of the long holiday,” he said.

The ban on religious activities at Monas was passed by former Governor Basuki “Ahok” Thajaha Purnama in 2015, solidifying previous governmental decrees prohibiting religious, commercial, and political events from taking place at the symbolic site.

When Anies was elected as governor in October, he moved quickly to repeal the ban, just in time for Islamic hardliners to hold a one-year anniversary of the 212 anti-Ahok rally (which many say Anies greatly benefited from during the election this year). Anies’ move was criticized by many, including the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (the world’s largest Muslim organization), who warned the governor not to use religion as a political tool and that he now has to give all faiths equal treatment regarding the use of Monas for religious activities.

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