For all the annual news about certain groups bent on canceling Christmas, the Jakarta Provincial Government has filled our hearts with joy by holding Christmas carols on the city’s busiest commercial thoroughfare.
Yesterday, under the direction of Jakarta’s Mental and Spiritual Education Agency, several Christmas carol groups began spreading holiday cheer at 11 locations on Jalan Sudirman and Jalan MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta, including the Bundaran HI MRT station, Blok M MRT station, and in front of fX Sudirman mall.
The groups are set to perform at the same 11 locations today and tomorrow from 5pm to 7pm.
“Like celebrating Christmas on European streets, while at the same time promoting Jakarta’s image as a global city, the Jakarta Provincial Government is supporting the celebration of Christmas in Jakarta,” Mental and Spiritual Education Agency Head Hendra Hidayat said in a press release yesterday.
On top of the Christmas carols, the agency has also put up a 10-meter tall Christmas tree created using recycled goods by schoolchildren on Jalan MH Thamrin.
“The message we want to stress is that Jakarta belongs to all. We want to create togetherness and a sense of harmony in Jakarta,” Hendra said.
Netizens were full of praise for the provincial government.
— gitaputrid (@gitaputrid) December 18, 2019
Kali ini saya angkat topi untuk bapak @aniesbaswedan untuk mengadakan christmas carol nya di jakarta, liat jakarta kaya di new york. Tinggal tunggu mr.bean nyolong pohon natal aja sih ini
— Hariadi Setiawan (@harripampir) December 18, 2019
This time I tip my hat to Governor Anies Baswedan for holding Christmas carols in Jakarta. Jakarta feels like New York. Just have to wait for Mr Bean to come and steal the Christmas tree.
While Christmas carols in a public space shouldn’t really be a big deal for an ostensibly multicultural and multi-religion city like Jakarta, the fact remains that this is the first provincial government-funded event of its kind — under an administration that is headed by a governor who has been accused of pandering to Islamists, no less.
Furthermore, Jakarta ranked among the worst provinces for religious tolerance in Indonesia in two recent studies — one of which was carried out by the central government. Hopefully the simple act of allowing believers of a minority religion to celebrate their religious holiday will set the tone for a more harmonious future in Jakarta.
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