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Muslim Youth to Protect Christmas Mass in Indonesia

JAKARTA – As Indonesian Christian minority get prepared for Christmas celebrations, a Muslim group in the world’s most populated Muslim country is deploying thousands of volunteers to protect the churches across the country during the Christmas mass.

“We have coordinated with police, military, and Islamic groups to maintain the security so that Catholics can attend Christmas Masses comfortably and safely,” said Francis Xavier Ping Tedja, security coordinator at Santa Maria Church, Catholic Herald reported.

Tedja said about 70 police, military and members of Banser – a military youth group associated with Nahdlatul Ulama, the biggest moderate Muslim organization in Indonesia – will secure the church for Christmas.

Across Indonesia, more than 90,000 police and soldiers and Muslim youth in Nahdlatul Ulama will help guard nearly 50,000 churches.

“We hope Catholics will not be afraid to attend Christmas Masses at the church,” he said.

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The security help for Christians is not new in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

In the past years, churches were protected by Muslim volunteers against militant attacks.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.

Christians, both Protestants, and Catholics, make up nearly 12 percent of the country’s population.

Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.

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