At least 14 people, including several journalists and the employees of a popular hotel in Jambi, are being questioned by police after it was reported that the hotel decorated a Christmas tree with cut-outs of the word "Allah [God]" in Arabic script.
The incident was reported from a four-star hotel called Novita Hotel in the province, following which the hotel's operation was suspended. Moreover, the chairman of Jambi's Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Adri Hasan has called the incident blasphemous and filed a complaint against the hotel. "We want this case to be thoroughly investigated to prevent restlessness among Muslims," he said, according to the Jakarta Post.
Meanwhile, Jambi Police said that they are questioning people who have seen the tree. They also urged people not to get provoked and refrain from creating any public tension. The news agency also reported that the Governor of Jambi, Zumi Zola, asked all parties to maintain law and order and not to instigate any kind of violence.
The governor also expressed regret over the incident and temporarily suspended the operation of Novita Hotel. Jambi Mayor Syarif Fasha also said on 23 December that the decision to close down Novita Hotel was taken to ease the impending religious tensions.
The clash between Muslims and Christian in the Southeast Asian region is not something new. Last year, in Malaysia, Indonesia's neighbouring country, the Federal Court rejected the Catholic Church's request to lift the ban on non-Muslims using the word "Allah" to refer to God. The court also clarified that the word has been banned only on the Church's newspaper and Malaysian Christians can use the word "Allah" in the church.