ALBANIANS AND ISLAM Between existence & extinction

After the often violent conversions that Byzantines carried on them, many Albanians were to embrace the heretical sect of Boghumils. Boghumils were one of the many heretical sects of the early Christianity which found safe heavens in the mountains of the Balkans, for safeguarding themselves from the official inquisition of the Church of Rome and Constantinople. Boghumils had very Islamic views on the nature of God. They for example, believed in Jesus Christ as prophet of God, and refused to adore the Orthodox and Catholic icons, which they considered to be idols. Albanian Boghumils were persecuted very fiercely from the official Church, and in many cases had to share the same fate as the Albignesi and Cathari heretics had to face in the Western Europe. Boghumilism as well as the great schism of the Eastern and Western Christianity and their continuous wars for dominance in the Balkans, made Albanians unable to develop any national Church or a strong connection with Christianity throughout the Medieval Ages. The continuous religious and political suppression which they had to endure from their Byzantine and Latin masters enabled them to be the first people of Europe, who welcomed openheartedly the futuhat of the Ottoman Pax Islamica in the 15th century Balkans.

Albanians in the days of the Ottoman Empire:
offering their namaz (prayers)

Albanians were the first nation who embraced Islam massively in Southeastern Europe and cooperated with the Turks for building their Islamic empire in Asia, Africa and Europe. Albanians constituted the bulk of the Osmanli armies,· and the majority of the janissary corps were manned by them.· People from Shemsedin Sami, who contributed to the modernization of the Ottoman state during the 19th century, most of the bodyguards of sultan Abdülhamid II, as well as the grand vizier who stopped sultan Selim I from forcefully Islamizing the Christians of Europe, were Albanians.

Albanian was even Mehmet Ali Pasha who established Egypt as an independent state in the 19th century. Albanian was even Shaikh Nasirudin Albani of the 20th century Salafi School and the famous Koprülü viziers who saved the Ottoman Empire from its chaos of the 17th century.· The earliest contribution of Albanians to the Empire of Islam can be traced from its very early days. Thus, some of the most important generals, which Sultan Mehmet Al-Fâtih had during his 15th century capture of Constantinople (Istanbul) and Italian ports· were Albanians.

In our present days, Albanians live scattered in three countries in the Balkans; in Albania, Kosova and Macedonia. Their countries were created after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First Balkanic War of 1913 from the Christian Alliance of Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro. While Kosova and Macedonia were incorporated into Yugoslavia, Albania for its part was projected to be a ‘buffer state’ from Austria and Italy against any further Slavic expansion in the Adriatic.·

Albania, Kosova and Macedonia

The Albanian post-Ottoman state has gone through many difficult moments since its creation. It has witnessed two World Wars, many existential threats from its neighbors, ethnic cleansings, invasions, civil wars, famines and anarchies.

Albania’s present population is 3 million and half. Its main ethnic group consist of Albanians. Other minorities living in the country include Greeks, Vlachs, Serbs, Gypsies and Bulgarians.

According to Albania’s 1957 census, 73% of its population is Muslim (60% are Sunni, while the rest Bektashi), 14% Orthodox and 10% Catholics. Albania’s total territory is 28.000 km2. Its capital city is Tirana, founded in the 17th century by an Albanian Pasha, who, as the legend says, originally named it Teheran.


Albania’s history after the fall of the Ottoman Empire has seen, unending inquisitions and crusades. The history of the Muslims of Andalusia has been making déjà vu-s even in the Balkans, after 1913. In different times of its modern history, Albanian Muslims have suffered from persecutions and ethnic cleansings. The worst persecution which are to be noted here, are those of 1913, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed and its Muslims were ethnically cleansed and massacred by Serbs and Greeks. Than, the Second World War, marked another chapter of persecution and genocide against them. In 1945 the Albanian Muslims of Çamëria in Northern Greece were ethnically cleansed and exiled in Albania and Turkey, and had their homes and mosques destroyed or confiscated, since the government of Papandreou accused its Çami Albanian population of collaborating with the Nazis. The same fate occurred even with the Albanians of ex-Yugoslavia who had to live for the rest of the century under the Yugoslav yoke.

But the most awful scenario of persecution came in 1967, when the communist regime which was installed in Albania by the Yugoslavs and Soviets after the Second World War, abolished the freedom of religions in the country and declared Albania an atheist state. During the decades of the communist horror, which lasted until 1991, many Albanian Hojas (Imams) and Dervishes were assassinated, imprisoned and exiled by the regime. Their temples demolished, and the religious literature was banned and destroyed. Communist’s massacres against Albanian Muslims sent its – after 1990 – Muslim generation, to wake up in total jahiliyah about its Islamic past. As a result, the Muslims majority of pre-1967 Albania, had, by 1991 a very vague idea about their Islamic identity.

The communist state's propaganda and ideology which developed in Albania during the years of communism, had its main scope the de-Islamization of Albanians. For this reason a process of historical manipulation of Albania’s Islamic past was put in action. Communist historians portrayed Albania’s history under the Ottomans and Pax Islamica in pan-Christian and Marxist· terms. They depicted the pax Osmanica in Albania as an era of butchery, ignorance, backwardness, conquest, Asiatic yoke and feudal exploitation· and the advance of the Turks and Arabs towards Europe as a process of barbarity against the European civilization.·

The Albanian official historiography and state propaganda refused and – in many cases – still does so, to appreciate or, at least, recognize any achievement whatsoever of the Pax Osmanica in the Balkans. In order of making Albania’s new generation as terrified and appalled with its Islamic origin, the official Albanian historiography and mythmakers have continuously ignored the positive role that the Ottoman Empire had towards Albanians in their development and integration in history.· The communist regime portrayed Albania's history under the Ottoman Empire as an era of continuous conflicts between the so-called ‘Albanian freedom-fighters’ and their ‘Ottoman imperial invaders’. While the process of mass-Islamization of Albanians, is described as a byproduct of Turkish terror against the ‘Christian heroes of Albania’.

this is one of the mythical depictions in Kruja's Museum where Albanians

are portrayed as enemies of the Turks and defenders of Christianity

Christian figures like those of Scanderbeg, Pjeter Bogdani and Millosh Kopili, which in many cases were of a dubious Albanian origin, were mythified. At the same time, other historical personalities, such as Ali Pashë Tepelena or the Bushati Pashas of Northern Albania, who constitute important figures in the history of Albanian Muslims, are left in darkness and de-glorified, since the latter are found to be Muslim-like heroes by the communist regime and its descendants.

The modern depiction of Pjeter Bogdani in the Albanian currency

* * *

With the advent of democracy in Eastern Europe after 1990, the religious freedoms were constituted back even in Albania. Albanians were allowed to re-practice their religions again. This made its Muslims feel that they could recover their lost identity. The new democratic regime, which was installed in Albania in 1991, made some room for the Muslims of Albania to start re-understanding their Islamic heritage. In this time, Albania became a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. An Arab-Albanian Islamic Bank was established in Tirana and around 20 Arab Islamic organizations opened their branches in the country. Along with them came even some Turkish, Iranian, British, American and other Muslim NGO-s. These shortly lived organizations were engaged from 1991 to 1996 in a process of Islamic education and mosque buildings. Apart from their shortcomings, they managed to print and distribute good volumes of Muslim literature in Albanian and build dozens of mosques in the country.

However the mosque building process did not manage to recover the country’s thirst for rediscovering their prohibited religion. If until 1967 in Albania some 1666 mosques existed, nowadays, after the communist destruction, Albanians have managed to rebuild only around 500 mosques throughout the country, even that some Christian fundamentalist organizations in the United States claim that the country has over 3000 mosques.· At present the country has around 350 imams and 500 mosques around the country, which means 1 imam for 10.000 people and 1 mosque for 7.000 people.

The situation of mosques remains negative in comparison with the pre-1967 conditions and with what the Christian missionaries are doing. Thus, if at present in the capital of Albania, Tirana some 8 mosques operate, the city has more than 155 Christian churches or missions that run on budgets of millions of dollars.• They have build churches in every area of the capital including in many Muslim villages where no mosques exist since 1950s.

Memaliaj is the best example of how a Muslim town is Christianized.
The town which has no mosque has only one Church planted in it from Greece

* * *


The Muslims of Albania were to revisit again their past sufferings in 1997. The Greek backed coup d’etat which struck the country in 1997· initiated a new wave of persecution for Muslims in Albania who were the main backers of democracy. The Socialist Party of Albania who came in power in 1997 was dominated by fundamentalist orthodox Albanians and Vlachs, with ex-dhimmi and communist background. Their hatred against Islam was demonstrated in all their political actions and some western analysts rated the Socialist Party and its regime as a mildly Orthodox in orientation.· During the first phase of their rule, the socialists unleashed a second crusade against Islam in Albania, by which most of the Arab - Islamic organizations operating in the country were closed. Muslim believers and imams were harassed, persecuted and mistreated. By making use of the state’s secret service and the excuses of the global war against terrorism the socialist regime turned Islam into a public enemy and all government backed newspapers initiated a wave of Islamophobia and blasphemy. During their waves of persecution, the socialist had West’s consent and backing; who supported their political manipulations and corruption, since the socialists were perceived as the good anti-Islamic guardians of the Muslim Albania. During the rule of the consequent socialist governments the dominant number of their ministers, were orthodox Christians.

During the days of the socialist rule, the main organization that officially represented the Sunni Muslims of the Republic of Albania, was the Muslim Community of Albania (MCA – Komuniteti Musliman Shqiptar). This organization which was created in the country since 1923 for managing the relations of the state with Islam was reopened in 1991 for doing the same job it did until 1967. The Muslim Community of Albania was headed by Hafiz Sabri Koçi until 2003. He was a veteran imam and Muslim activist, who passed away in June 2004. He was well known for his commitment towards Islam and anti-communism.

A picture of the late Sabri Koçi

With his death, the next chairman of MCA, was made Selim Muça. Mr. Muca who was known for his connections with the socialist prime minister, is originally a golloborda – Slavic Muslims, educated in Czechoslovakia as engineer during the communist era. During Selim Muça’s lidership the Muslims of Albania and their community has seen a wave of scandals, and degradation. Many Muslim intellectuals have accused Mr. Muça as being the man of the regime, unable to lead and defend the Muslims of Albania intellectually and Islamically and have called for his removal.

Nevertheless, the Muslim Community of Albania, as an organization that has a loose – but state recognized – control over the mosques of the country is the main NGO recognized by state – representing the Sunnis of Albania. It is focused in the maintenance of the Sunni religious infrastructure in the country. However since MCA is extremely poor; its religious and cultural activities are often dependent on foreign help. The poverty of MCA is inherited since the days of communism when the regime confiscated all its properties and did not return most of them, even after 1991. At present, MCA has 7 madrasas, which run in very poor conditions and over 500 mosques throughout the country. The staff of MCA is often very poorly paid and its madrasas often lack basic needs, which a modern school needs. Some of the madrasas of MCA, run with the help of Turkish and Arab organizations.

Since its re-establishment in 1991 the Muslim Community of Albania has struggled to achieve its authority as the real “Muslim Church” of Albania. However, the policies of the Albanian state since 1991 and moreover after 1997 have often sabotaged that. Albania’s new generation of believers and imams has often, been insistent on better shaping their all-representing institution and having a democratic representation in it. They have requested to see their MCA be a real representative and defender of the needs of Islam in the country, media and politics. However their requests have often been futile in the past, since certain elements outside MCA have continuously sabotaged their desire to create a democratic all-representing ‘Muslim Church’ for their community. One such example has been the case of the Gjinishi clan, which mingled with MCA from its re-creation in 1991 until the 26th of May 2004.· Another has been the case of Tirana Mufti’s resignation in 2005, when he accused openly the politics of the country in intervening in MCA’s affairs and turning it into a bastion of intrigues and corruption on behalf of the politics.

Time and again, when Albanian Muslims have tried to clean their institution from already proved corrupt officials,· the interests that operate in the country have prevented or at least intimidated them by all means.· The socialist have been very successful on doing that. Their arrogance against Islam was so huge as it could be seen even on the speeches of the orthodox Prime Minister, Mr. Nano who in 2004 declared that the Muslims in Albania were a minority. Nano’s colleague, the Vlach – orthodox president of the Republic of Albania, Alfred Moisiu reaffirmed this attack in 9 November 2005 in a meeting held at the Oxford Union in London, when he declared that all Albanians were Christians.· And in front of all these provocations MCA proved unable to speak directly to the politics on behalf of Islam.

The examples of the socialist establishment’s arrogance towards Islam were seen even in 27 November 2004, when the brave Mufti of Tirana, Bledar Myftari, demanded from the state to return to the Muslims Community their properties and stop the process of confiscation.· Even that the issue of confiscations of the religious properties was recognized by the Bureau for Democracy and Human Rights in the USA, which urged the Albanian government to act, the socialist governments’ reply to MCA’s demands was swift and arrogant. In the next day, on December 29, 2004 the socialist government closed down 10 cultural centers of MCA throughout the country on the bases that they did not posses the proper documentation·, while the SHISH (State’s Informative Service) used the media as it did throughout the socialist rule to attack and slander Islam and MCA.

However, the desires of Albanian Muslims did not weaken in front of threats and intimidations. MCA on its part has participated in many cases, and sometimes together with other churches in the country, such as the case was during the second week of August 2004, when it together with the Orthodox and Catholic Church wrote an open letter to the president and prime minister of Albania and demanded to have their properties back.

One of the reasons why MCA has lost much of its authority in the country are related to its desperate economic conditions. Thus, the Imams who serve for MCA in its mosques around the country often get as low salaries as 40 US$ a month and sometimes not at all, while the lowest salary in Albania is over 120 US$ per month. MCA’s monthly deficit during 2004, for covering its costs and expenditures only for its Tirana operations were over 5000 US$ per month.· As a result the higher staff of MCA itself, gets as low salaries as 220US$ a month, while the lowest church worker of the Orthodox Church in Albania gets a salary of 300 EURO per month. With this kind of income, in Albania, which is one of the most expensive countries of Balkans, MCA has the poorest paid religious staff in the country. In comparison to other religious workers operating in the country, the staff of the Muslim Community of Albania is the poorest of them all. The poverty of MCA and its staff needs to be readdressed by the Muslims of Albania and the Ummah, if they really want to create a real Moslem Church for this community. But, Albania’s overall poverty, backwardness and isolation from the Muslim Ummah, is making such a step almost impossible.


Apart from MCA in Albania a number of other Muslim organizations operate. Often they have small and limited activities based on their incomes and infrastructure. In the country a number of tarikats together with the Bektashi Order operate. However the activities of those organizations are mostly related to religious aspects. But in response to the challenges posed by the regime, since 2004 a new organization has emerged in the Albania which has been vocal on protecting the image of Islam at the public level. The Muslim Forum of Albania,· an organization whose aim is the fight against Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia has been continuously challenging the Albanian politics in the last 2 years and demanding more respect for Muslims and Islam. Because of its outspoken stance, the socialist regime attacked the Forum from its birth and claimed that MFA was created to challenge MCA. Nevertheless with the passing of time MFA has showed itself as a civil organization whose real aim is the fight against Islamophobia and fulfilling the civic image that Islam does not have in the country. Through its press releases in the media and other mediums, MFA has tried to make much noise against the discrimination that Muslims have undergone in the country. The greatest success of MFA was achieved in November 2005, when it denounced the speech of the president Alfred Moisiu held in London, where he declared that the Muslims of Albania were Christians and Islam was not an authentic religion.

MFA’s condemnation created a wide support in the Albanian medias, and since than, the Forum is seen by many as the political and the public defender of Islam in the country.

The chairman of
the Muslim Forum of Albania


Besides the Islamic Community, two other major religious entities exist in Albania: they are the Catholic and Orthodox communities. Their influence and role is spread all over the country, on the political stage, as well as in the media, economy and society. The geographical positioning of Muslim Albania, between the Christian Constantinople and Rome has historically turned it into a clashing zone between the Oriental Orthodoxy and Occidental Catholicism. The historical crusades, from those of Pope Urban II in the 11th century, continued by others in the Ottoman’s days, have distinguished Albania as a major kulturkampf zone between the hordes of Orient and Occident for domination and forced evangelization.

Christianity has stressed its dominance and power in the Balkans since the retreat of the Ottoman Empire from it in 1913. However, the Christian imperialism has shown its aggressive face in Albania more clearly, after 1990-es. Since 1991 Albania has been invaded by a huge number of Christian organizations which after understanding – Albanians desperate situations – have continuously tried to proselyte and turn them into Christians. The Catholic Church has and is one of the most powerful institutions which aims to revert Albanians from Islam to Christianity. With the strong backing of the West, and especially Italy, Austria and Vatican, it is probably one of the most powerful institutions of Albania. The Catholic propaganda on converting Albanians has been very aggressive in the past years. Their activities in the country are uncountable but here we may mention their establishment of a great Catholic Cathedral in the heart of Tirana, the opening of a Catholic University, establishment of numerous institutions, newspapers, radios and even a political party.

Even that Albanian Catholics officially constitute only 10% of the population, they have managed to build modern churches, religious schools and kindergartens, children villages, hospitals etc throughout Albania. At present they are at the last steps of opening their Catholic University in Durrës and in 2004 the Catholic Church runs a private University in Tirana, named ‘Zoja e Këshillit të Mirë’ (the Lady of the Good Council), training institutes like Don Bosco and so on. Apart from all the above, the Church has managed in many times to becomes a shadow of the Albanian overall politics.

Apart from the religious activity the Church has opened many centers for recruiting Albanian intellectuals in its ideology. Vatican and Italy stands behind the Demochristian Party of Albania, which is run by Catholic fundamentalists who claim that Albanian’s future remains in Europe with conversion into Catholicism. With the powerful financial backing of Vatican, Austria and Italy, Demochristians have opened branches of their party in all corners of Albania and they influence even the inner functioning of the Democratic Party. The influence of Vatican is very much felt in North of Albania, where Muslims are often discriminated by Catholics who work on behalf of the Democratic Party in state institutions and other sectors.

Vatican has its influence felt even in the Albanian media. Thus two powerful local newspapers of Tirana, Koha Jonë and Albania are run by Demochristinans, who have their influence even in newspapers such as Gazeta 55, Shqiperia Etnike, magazines like Phoenix etc. The Catholic’s desire for converting the Muslim Albania into a Catholic place where seen even during 2005 when they started planting crosses in the north of the country and at one moment they got even the backing of the American ambassador in Tirana, Marcy Ries who donated some money from her ambassador funding to sponsor a project in the city of Shkodra for turning the Fatih Mosque of Rozafa Castle into a Church.·

Nevertheless, after 1997 the Orthodox Church has been the most important player of the Albanian politics. According to a popular belief of many Albanians the Orthodox Church and its Greek Bishop, Anastasis Yanolatos, was the real state running Albania from 1997 to 2005. The Orthodox Church in Albania has the open support of Greece, Serbia and many Protestant organizations from the United States. After the coup of 1997 Greece and the Orthodox Church managed to install almost all the state apparatus of Albania with its people. From the prime-minister Fatos Nano, to Albania’s president Alfred Moisiu, the ministers of defense, interior, economy, state, culture, and health, including the ex-Foreign Minister of Albania Paskal Milo, as well as many other ministers, politicians and government officials who run Albanian politics until 2005 were all Orthodox or at least declared anti-Islamists. Like the Catholics, the Orthodox Church runs many institutions in Albania, like church hospitals, public schools, companies, institutes, radios and newspapers. This Church, besides the religious conversion, makes the national assimilation of Albanians as well. They have great influence upon Albanian immigrants in Greece, whose number is more than 700.000. Since amongst Orthodox Albanians, many are not Albanians by origin but Vlachs, Greek propaganda of the past 12 years has tried to reorganize and empower them economically and remind them about their ethnic background. At present, Vlachs are in very powerful controlling positions in Albania’s institutions. From the mayor of Tirana, to the director of the Academy of Sciences, the publisher of Albania’s biggest daily newspaper, deans of faculties of economics, history, psychology and literature in Tirana University, the director of Soros, the rector of NY University of Tirana, minister of defense and many more are Vlachs by origin or close friends and supporters of archbishop Yanulatos and Greece.* As the British historian, James Petifer, declared in his article of the municipal elections of 2003 Albania, Vlachs and Greeks of Albania have great influence in the ruling Socialist Party, and Petifer was even labeling the Socialist Party as being a mildly orthodox.*

Apart from the Socialist Party the Vlachs and Greeks of Albania, are represented even in the Party for the Defense of Human Rights (known as Omonia). In the last years this party is managing to take 3 – 4 ministries from the ruling Socialists or Democrats, who need to appease them in order of having Greece’s and EU’s blessings on their governance.

* * *

After 1991, with the opening of Albania towards the west an army of Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Evangelists, Calvinists, Lutherans, Adventist, Tele-evangelist, Kadianis, Bahais and other alien sects and orders have invaded Albania. By finding an isolated and starved population, they fished in Albania with the Bible and Bread on their hands for desperate Albanians who wanted to escape the misery they were living in, and test what was hidden for them in the west.

As a result of their budgets counting millions of dollars, since 1991 in Albania a great number of protestant churches have been planted. Protestants, Evangelists, Calvinists and Jehovah’s Witness have been massively supported from the countries they came from. According to a study conducted by the Albanian Center for Conflict Resolutions, the massive propaganda and investment that missionaries have made in Albania in the last 15 years, has managed to convert some 3.1% of Albanians into Protestantism.*

Here it is interesting to note that the Americans have been very keen to produce converts in Albania, many of whom after that have been employed by them. As a result of the foreign help the above mentioned report mentions that the Protestants and the Orthodox are the best integrated and well off people of the Albanian society, while Muslims are in the worst position.

A common pattern that almost all the foreign sects have followed in Albania has been attacking the Islamic identity of Albanians and seeking Muslim converts for their order. If at present, the Muslim Community of Albania has only three old cars, or the Muslim Forum has none, the Churches operating in Albania have in many cases even helicopters. They are like states within a state. With their economic superiority they organize massive exhibitions, conferences, TV proselyting emissions and publications targeting Albanian Muslims. Many of the protestant Christian Churches and organizations run schools, foundations, institutes, orphanages and clinics. They operate four radios as well, even that the Albanian legislation prohibits the existence of religious radios when it comes to Muslims. Many of the Churches’ operation in Albania, are believed by common Albanians to be involved in espionage activities against the country. This suspicion has been verified in many cases, when local Albanian newspapers have openly admitted that many religious missionaries operating in the country have been operatives of foreign espionages.

Mormon missionaries in the streets of Tirana

Since the number of the Christian NGO’s and Centers operating in Albania is too great, tracing them all is almost impossible. However the following list can bring some light to the extent of the crusade which Albania faces at present:

SJAA (St. John Ambulance Association); SSJE (Society of St. John Evangelist); SPSM (Society for the Sacred Mission); SCM (Student Christian Movement); UCCD (United Christian Council for Democracy); VAT (Voluntary Aid Detachment); YMFS (Young Men’s Friendly Society); PSCE (People’s Society for Christian Endeavor); C.O.S. (Charity Organization Society); FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry); BSC - Bethany Christian Services (“Shërbimet Kristiane Bethany”,); CF - Cross Foundation (“Fondacioni i Kryqit”); FPEC - Foundation Program for Evangelization of Children (“Fondacioni Program për Ungjillizimin e Fëmijëve”); Power of Light (“Fuqia e Dritës”); International Professional Development (“Zhvillimi Ndërkombëtar Profesional”); Humanitarian Foundation for Protection of Women and Children (“Fondacioni humanitar i mbrojtjes së gruas dhe fëmijës”); Adams’ Humanitarian Foundation (“Fondacioni Humanitar Adams”); “Word of Life” Foundation (“Fondacioni ‘Fjala e Jetës’”); God Loves Albania (“Zoti e do Shqipërinë”); Way of Peace (“Rruga e Paqes”); Austria for Albania Foundation (“Fondacioni Austria për Shqipërinë”); Church of Christ Tirana (“Kisha e Krishtit Tiranë”); Siloah Fellowship International; Albanian Encouragement Project (“Projekti për inkurajimin e Shqipërisë”); Norsk Nordhjelp; International Christian Foundation (“Fondacioni Kristian Ndërkombëtar”); Nostra Signora del Buon Consiglio; Orthodox Clinic of Evangelization (“Klinika Ortodokse e Ungjillizimit”); Bethany Fellowship Albania; Christian Center Victory (“Qendra Kristiane ‘Fitorja’”); Mission Emanuel for Albania Foundation (“Fondacioni Misioni Emanuel për Shqipërinë”); Contribute for Education Mission (“Misioni Kontribut për Edukimin”); Orthodox Union “Friends of St. Cosmo” (Lidhja Ortodokse ‘Miqtë e Sh. Kozmait’”); Christian Aid Service (“Shërbesa e Ndihmesës Kristiane”); Jehova’s Witnesses (“Dëshmitarët e Jehovait”); Christian and Evangelist Union (“Enti i Bashkimit Kristian dhe Evangjelist”); Adventistic Church (“Kisha Adventiste”); Christian Evangelistic Church (“Kisha Kristiane Evangjeliste”); Charity Mission “Mother Theresa” (Misioni Bamirës ‘Nëna Tereza’”); Selessian Association (“Shoqata Seleziane”); World Baptist Foundation (“Fondacioni Botëror Baptist”); Yürgen Walman Foundation (“Fondacioni ‘Jürgen Walman’”); Contro Informazione Terzo Mondo; Humanitarian Foundation for Albanian Christian Culture (“Fondacioni Humanitar për Kulturën Kristiane Shqiptare”); Colping Family (“Familja Kolping”); European Baptist Federation (“Federata Baptiste Evropiane”); Youth for a Mission (“Të Rinjtë për një mision”); “Don Bosco” Social Center (“Qendra Sociale ‘Don Bosco’”); Charity Missionaries – Sister M. Ancilla (“Misionaret e Bamirësisë – Motra M. Ancilla”); “Jesus’ Pupils” Society (“Bashkësia ‘Nxënësit e Jezusit’”); Adventistic Church of the Seventh Day (“Kisha Adventiste e Ditës së Shtatë”); Mother Theresa Mission (“Misioni Nëna Tereza); Nehemiyah (“Nehemia”,); Free Finish Mission (“Misioni i Lirë Finlandez); Liahona; International Protestant Assembly (“Asambleja Protestante Ndërkombëtare”); Adra Albania – Agency for Adventistic and Spiritual Development – Albania (“Agjencia për Zhvillimin Adventist dhe Shpirtëror në Shqipëri”); Oklahoma – World Institute of English for Albania (“Oklahoma – Instituti Botëror i Anglishtes për Shqipërinë”); Hope for Albania (“Shpresë për Shqipërinë”); Gjerasim Qiriazi Foundation (“Fondacioni Gjerasim Qiriazi”); Estafier.*


The Muslims of Albanian have witnessed tremendous shocks in their identity, after the new realities of after 9/11. In line with the global hysteria against Islam, even the Albanian state apparatus was in many cases involved in open crusades against its own Muslims. For example: in January 13, 2003 the MCA’s general secretary was assassinated in his office. His enigmatic killing sent the state apparatus and secret services to go in an open rampage against Muslims of the country. The state backed press accused them of being fundamentalist. The offices of the Albanian Muslim Community were raided in many occasions and their staff taken into custody without any court order. Common believers and imams were taken from their mosques having their fingerprints and pictures taken as suspects, even that until today no single proof has been found to incriminate them in this heinous crime.

This kind of undeclared official apartheid and discrimination was never seen by the new generation of Albanian Muslims before. They could not understand why the press had to accuse them for being some kind of ‘bad guys’ and equate their religion with that of the Talibans, when, they were simple believers like their forefathers before? The Muslims of Albania could not understand why the press had to see them as some kind of criminals. They could not understand why SHIK (the Albanian Secrete Service) had to plant bugs in the offices of their MCA and mosques, and later remove them by causing false bomb alarms in MCA’s offices. Why them and not the others? Probably, because they are the most impoverished and weakest religious community of the country?

At present, the Muslims of Albania represent the most isolated and impoverished section of the Albanian society. For over-passing this they need to build their own institutions, schools, foundations and medias. But they have no resources for doing that. They have not even enough mosques where they can pray their Jummah prayers. At present Tirana, the capital of the country has only 8 Masjids, and in the days of Jummah, Albanian Muslims are forced to pray outside Et’hem Beg Mosque in Central Square of Tirana since the Old Ottoman Masjid can not keep them all inside. The same goes in other cities.

Albanians offering their 2004 Bayram (Id) prayers in the open in Tirana’s Main Square;
since there is no mosque to accommodate them in the city

The Albanian Muslims of Tirana do not have any private colleges, where they can send their covered daughters, when they get fired from the state schools for keeping their Islamic headscarf. But the other communities, including the present planted Kadianis / Ahmedias, have. Albanian Muslims, unlike the Christians do not have any radio for their community, neither any newspaper. The only Muslim newspaper, which was created in the country after 1991 (Drita Islame), at present is not in very healthy conditions. Even that Albanian’s past history is full with remarkable events; their present situation is very desperate. They do not have even any Institute for Islamic Studies in the country, which will preserve and document their Ottoman – Islamic past, and will teach people the history and religion of their grandfathers under the Ottomans, even that they do not lack the able intellectuals who can run such an institution.

Even that the Muslims of Albania constitute the majority of the population, they do not have any political party to represent them and defend their rights in the front of different attacks which they face on their identity. The absence of political parties, radios, newspapers, schools, institutions, foundations etc among the Muslims of Albania is not because their community does not have staff for managing itself. The main problem, which Albanian Muslims of today face, is part of a larger problem of the Albanian society itself. The miserable economic conditions which post-communist Albania has inherited from the communist past and the fake promises of the era of democracy are the main factor. Albanian Muslims at the same way as their non-religious Albanians, do suffer from the huge economic misery, which the country is experiencing at present. In a country with unemployment marking around 50% of the population, which is being ruined since many years by IMF colonial economic policies, the future of the Albanian Muslim seems very grim.

Their only hope for revival remains on the Huge Ocean of the sleepy Muslims World. By seeing thousands of Christian Missionaries, businessmen, officials, institutions and organization invading their country, they keep on hoping that someday, even the Muslim World will modernize itself and remind itself about its Muslim brethrens living in the doorsteps of Europe.

But until the Muslim World gets reminded about the presence of their European looking – Muslims in Albania, the Muslims of Albania will have to struggle for survival in the unfriendly region in which they happen to be; far away from the Ocean of the Islamic World, in the very mouth of the aggressive historical Christianity.

· M. Gleny, The Balkans 1804 – 1999, NY, 2000, p. 23

· B. Jelavich, Historia e Ballkanit, Tirana, 1999, Pp. 87

· S. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Vol I, p. 207

· F. Babinger, Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time, Princeton, 1978, p. 390-391

· Ibid, p. 273

· O. Jazexhi, KRYENGRITJA POPULLORE SHQIPTARE E 1912 – 1915, Kuala Lumpur, 2001

· Marx’s opinion for the people of Orient was that: “They cannot represent themselves but they must be represented “, quoted by E. Said in: Orientalism, p. 21

· Historia e Shqiperise, Tirana, 1959, p. 340

· See the mapping description on the Turkish and Arabic victories in Europe, at Scanderbeg’s Museum in Kruja

· Armin Hetzer, Geschichte und Gegenwart. Probleme der Geschichreinbung Albaniens, Balkan Archiv, nr. 6, Bremen, 1981

· James Pettifer, Albanian Elections 2003 - Progress, Shortcomings & The Greek Factor, Conflict Studies Research Centre, November 2003

• Olsi Jazexhi’s talk with Tirana’s Mufti, Shaban Salihu on March 2006

· Read Edith Harxhi’s report on “Komploti greko-komunist kundër Demokracisë Shqiptare”

On :

· James Pettifer, Albanian Elections 2003 - Progress, Shortcomings & The Greek Factor, Conflict Studies Research Centre, November 2003

· After facing intense requests and an undeclared rebellion from the Imams of Tirana, Durrës, Elbasan, Kukësi and other towns of Albania, Haji Selim Muça agreed to suspend Ermir Gjinishi, who, has indirectly been accused as accomplice in the killing of Sali Tivari by the Albanian press.

· The report of the Transparency Commission of AMC, issued on 04/ 05/ 2004 which was headed by Lezha’s Mufti, Tomorr Ballabani; found Ermir Gjinishi responsible for the mismanagement of the properties of AMC and requested his suspension.

· Olsi Jazexhi. AVOKATËT E DJALLIT NË ÇËSHTJET E ISLAMIT, Korrieri, 29 May 2004

· For more read the reaction of the Muslim Forum of Albania at:

· Myslimanët Kundër Qeverisjes Nano, Koha Jonë, 29 December 2004, pg. 3

· Raporti i Ministrisë së Arsimit/ Mbyllen 10 institucione, Gazeta Shqiptare, 1 January 2005, pq. 2

· The Present Economical Situation of the Muslim Community of Albania, 2004 Report, by Suleyman Sula, Director of the Economic Division of MCA: obtained by Olsi Jazexhi

· Available Online at:

· A reaction from the Muslim Forum of Albania on this subject can be read at:

* Kastriot Myftari, Miti i Harmonisë Fetare dhe Realiteti i Konfliktit, Gazeta Tema, September 2004

* James Pettifer, Albanian Elections 2003 - Progress, Shortcomings & The Greek Factor, Conflict Studies Research Centre, November 2003

* The report can be read online here:


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