Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Due to the
massive protest campaign launched by extremist Islamic groups in recent days, the
management of Hermes Palace - a multi-starred hotels in Banda Aceh - have
canceled plans for New Year's Eve. The
celebrations for the last day of the year were planned some time ago, but the pressure
from fundamentalist movements in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia where
Shariah , or Islamic law is in vigor, has led to the evening's cancellation for
safety reasons and public order. Moreover,
the Ulema Advisory Council of Banda Aceh (MPU) has called on the Muslim
community not to "celebrate" Christmas and New Year because
"they are not Islamic holidays".
Octowandi , general manager of
the hotel, confirmed the suspension of the dances and the concert scheduled for
the evening, despite the event being a showcase for local entertainers,
according to organizers, so that they could take advantage of free publicity
and gain a wider and international audience.
The decision came after a meeting
with Islamic leaders, who have proclaimed themselves the "guardians of
Sharia law in Aceh ." The
hotel managers were forced to publish a written document confirming the
cancellation of all the events planned for the evening, including music and
hotel, however, can organize similar events in any one evening in 2014 , but not
New Year's Eve because it "does not come from the Islamic calendar , but comes
from the Christian tradition".
The fundamentalist movements also
promise raids and punishment for those who organize parties or celebrations for
the last night of the year. The
governor of Aceh and the police chief have been placed in charge of enforcing
Islamic norms , such as the ban on alcohol, the explosion of fireworks and
other things that are not inherent to the Muslim culture
is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Increasingly however, it has
become the scene of attacks or episodes of intolerance against minorities,
whether they are Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or belong to other faiths.
Aceh is the only Indonesian province where Sharia (Islamic
law) is enforced, following a peace agreement between the central government
and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Yet, in many other areas of the country, a
more radical and extreme vision of Islam is spreading among ordinary
Certain rules such as the infamous building permit (Izin
Mendirikan Bangunan or IMB in Indonesian) have been used to prevent the
construction of Christian places of worship or stop construction already
underway, as was the case for the
Yasmin Church in West Java.
Catholics are a small minority of about seven million, or 3
per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the faithful
represent 3.6 per cent of the population.
Catholics are nevertheless an active component of society
and have contributed to the nation's development as well as to emergency
operations when they arise, as was the case in last January's devastating
Although the country's constitution recognises religious
freedom, Catholics have been the victims of violence and abuse.