The Muslim chief minister of Sabah in Malaysia has ramped up the celebratory mood among Christians in the state by adding Dec. 24 or Christmas Eve as a new public holiday.
The neighbouring state of Sarawak is also thinking of declaring Christmas Eve a holiday, local reports said.
“The additional public holiday will enable those celebrating Christmas to return home earlier,” Sabha Cheif Minister MohdShafieApdal said when launching the five-day Kota Kinabalu Christmas Carnival in the state capital on Dec. 11.
The state is the first in Malaysia to add the Christian celebration to the list of two-day public holidays accorded to significant festivals in the country after Eid al-Fitr and Chinese New Year.
For many Christians in Malaysia, Christmas celebrations can be a minefield. Decades of Islamization and the steady rise of Islamic conservatism in the South-East Asian nation has led to anti-Christian rhetoric forcing restraint when observing such religious events.