The nation is on edge throughout the festive period.
In Central Java, two-thirds of the province’s 35,000 police have been deployed to protect 2,800 churches. About 180 churches have been singled out for extra safety measures.
The Chocolicious Indonesia bakery in the South Sulawesi capital apologised and said customers were given greeting cards and “chocolate boards” where they could write festive greetings.
The customer had asked for “Selamat hari Natal keluargaku” (merry Christmas my family) on a cake she had ordered, according to the Indonesian media.
The archipelago’s highest religious authority, the Indonesian Ulema Council, does not prohibit Muslims from greeting Christians during Christmas.
The head of the presidential committee on Indonesia’s state ideology, Yudi Latif, said that shop owners had “the right to refuse or accept”, but said tolerance needed to be maintained, reported the Jakarta Post.
Chocolicious Indonesia’s Instagram account was soon inundated with comments.
The bakery posted on the social-media site in Bahasa Indonesia: “With all due respect and humbleness. First of all, we would like to offer our deepest regret. We from Chocolicious Indonesia are not yet able to write merry Christmas or other similar expressions.
“This does not mean we do not respect your religion. But with all due respect, this is what we have to practise based on our religious principles.
“Again, we sincerely apologise from the bottom of our heart and the feeling of respect and honour as Indonesians.
“We will still provide greeting cards and chocolate boards as additional services for your order. You are welcome to add your own writing. Again, we wish for your understanding.
“We love you, chocolovers.”
As Indonesia’s Muslims become more conservative, some have cautioned against saying “Merry Christmas” or celebrating the festival.
Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said heightened security measures had been implemented across the country, including installing security posts and preparing community health centres (Puskesmas) and hospitals to operate 24 hours.
“I ordered them to provide best services to all people, both those who celebrate Christmas and people of other faiths,” Tjahjo told the media.
Sulawesi. Picture credit: Flickr