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Open letter to Mr. Moisiu,
President of Albania

From: The Federation of Albanian Mosques of Belgium

Bruxelles, November 17th, 2005

Honorable Mr. President,

The Federation of Albanian Mosques in Belgium and the Imams Tasim Ramadani, Nuhi Shaqiri and Musa Mulaj express their deep indignation regarding your statements made during the speech at the Forum of Oxford entitled “Inter-religious tolerance in the tradition of the Albanian People”. Among other things, you feel that you are permitted to state that: “Islam in Albania is not an indigenous religion, but was brought in by the Ottoman military factor. ... because Islam in Albania is not indigenous or residential, nor was it spread at the time it originated, but something from abroad, inherited in the language and religious literature of the factor responsible of its arrival. As a norm, it is a shallow Islam. If you dig just a little inside every Albanian, you will uncover his Christian core”. You go on by saying “You will find 15 centuries of Christianity in every Albanian Muslim” and “it is not true that there is a Muslim majority in our country... in the viewpoint of a religious timeline all Albanians are Christians”. Furthermore you state that “it could be concluded that until the appearance of the Ottoman political, military and religious factor, the important thing for the average Albanian was being a devout Christian”

Religious conversions because of benefits that came with embracing Islam or as a result of the desire for conformity in an ever increasingly Muslim society are not to be excluded, as the same thing could be said of the embracing of Christianity by the Albanians until the arrival of which had been pagans for thousands of years. On the same token, the overwhelmingly Christian European society, international circumstances against Muslims and certainly the heated debate on Turkey’s accession to the EU are making a number of conformists try to adopt a camaleon’s strategy. This is a private matter with which no one dares interfere given that other people’s freedoms are not threatened. But to abuse of your position in the name of the Albanian people, to turn their feelings into a bargaining chip and to annihilate the fundamental characteristics of their majority, that Mr Moisiu is unacceptable. Here, Mr Moisiu you have crossed the red line. Such insulting statements against Muslims made by Italian officials was covered by all the world media and forced them to publicly apologize immediately. The similarities end here Mr President because Italy is a member of the EU and a country where every violation of human rights and freedoms universally recognized (such as freedom of thought and religion, the secularity of the state) is punishable by law even in Belgium where we live and elsewhere in Europe. Even though Islam is not an indigenous religion here, nor is it the religion of the majority if the people, it is treated equally like the other religions and religious based teachings are incorporated into the official school programs.

It would be better if you followed the example of the part of the world that you aspire to be a part of , that is the EU and promote inter-religious tolerance and the principles therewith associated, instead of digging inside the spiritual realm of the majority of the Albanian people in order to find something convenient to you and no doubt compatible with your functions. Mr. President, you have the obligation, at least a moral one to offer a public apology for the insult on the overwhelming majority of the Albanian people and their identity.


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