President Joko Widodo has issued a stern warning against those thinking of carrying out religiously-motivated raids during Christmas and New Year's Eve, reminding the nation to uphold religious tolerance.
In recent years, hardline groups have carried out illegal raids – locally referred to as "sweeping" – during the holiday season on businesses and establishments, often against the display of Christmas decorations and accessories, arguing that they are not compatible with the Islamic way of life.
"In this country, our constitution guarantees the freedom of religious belief," Jokowi said today, as quoted by Suara.
Jokowi added that he has given an official instruction to National Police Chief Idham Azis for the police force to act sternly against those who carry out the illegal raids.
In the past, hardline groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) have been all-too-willing to enforce a fatwa (religious edict), which does not equate to law in Indonesia, issued by the country's clerical body forbidding Muslims from wearing Christmas clothing or accessories to celebrate the Christian holiday.
Yet the hardliners have, at times, gone too far in enforcing the fatwa. In at least one case in 2016, police escorted one such raid in Surabaya, drawing outrage from the public and then-National Police Chief Tito Karnavian.