Indonesian police said Monday that they will take action against groups that use violence to enforce an edict from the country's leading Islamic body forbidding Muslims from wearing Christmas attire.
National police chief
Gen. Tito Karnavian said the edict is not a law in Indonesia and that
he has reprimanded police who circulated leaflets based on the edict
from the Indonesian Ulema Council.
Karnavian's remarks came after
reports that members of the Islamic Defenders Front, a vigilante group,
went to shopping malls in Surabaya, East Java province's capital, to
remind businesses not to require Muslim employees to wear Christmas
attire such as Santa hats.
They were accompanied by about 200 police
officers. Surabaya police chief Col. Muhammad Iqbal said they escorted
the group in order to prevent any violence.
``Although it is a peaceful
action, we keep guard to anticipate undesired things,'' Iqbal said on
Sunday. ``They are not allowed to go inside because the malls are public
The Ulema Council issued an edict on Wednesday forbidding the use of
non-Muslim attire such as Santa hats and called on companies to
guarantee the rights of Muslims to practice their religion in accordance
with their beliefs.
Muslim-majority Indonesia recognizes six religions
and has a large Christian minority.
Christmas decorations are
commonplace in shopping malls and offices during the festive season.
Karnavian said Islamic groups can use social media to promote
understanding of the edict.
The Islamic Defenders Front was behind protests in the past two
months against Jakarta's minority Christian governor, who is on trial
A Nov. 4 protest in Jakarta, the capital, that attracted
at least 100,000 people turned violent, with one death and dozens of
police and protesters injured.