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Muslim Forum of Albania

Press Release


Wednesday, June 2nd  2005, on the TV show ‘Fahrenheit’ hosted by journalist Sokol Balla of Vision +, there was a debate on religion and politics in Albania. On this show, guest speakers such as Ardian Ndreca, Mark Marku, Fahri Balliu and Ilir Kulla, used a highly offensive and insulting language in reference to Islam. The individuals most offensive to Islam and its followers in Albania were the publisher of the newspaper “55” and the director of  ‘De Gaspari’ Christian-Democratic Institute, Fahri Balliu together with the secretary of the Committee on Cults by the Prime Minister, Ilir Kulla. The latter holds a legal position which obliges him to have a prudent attitude towards all the religious communities operating in Albania. Instead of acting as a coordinator  of agreements between religious communities and the Council of Ministers, under the name of the institution he represents ( the Council of Ministers), Mr. Kulla decides to publicly insult the largest religious community in Albania, the Islamic community. This stance is not only indiscreet, considering his position it will also hurt him when running for MP in the upcoming elections, but it also runs contrary to the International Charter for Human Rights and the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. According to Kulla and Balliu, in Albania, Islam is portrayed as a danger, and the converting of Albanians into Muslims during the times of the Ottoman Empire was considered to be a tragedy. Furthermore, in a very insolent manner, Mr.Kulla went as far as asking the state to exercise control over the Muslim Community of Albania in which, according to him, believers educated in the Arab world are trying to penetrate. Considering the fact that the ex-journalist Kulla is the one in charge of coordinating the smooth-course of religions in Albania, and not the one who destroys the independence of the Islam or orchestrates a discriminatory campaign against Muslim believers, the Albanian Muslim Forum expresses its indignation  with regards to the interference within the internal affairs of Islam and the Muslim community in Albania by an official of the Nano government. Ilir Kulla has declared on the media several times before that within the Albanian Muslim Community (KMSH) there are two factions: the radical and the moderate one. This declaration, which is rejected both by the “KMSH” and Muslim believers, is not only  divisive but it is first and foremost defaming the image of the Islam in Albania. Given the fact that Mr. Kulla and Mr. Balliu are incessant offenders of the Albanian Muslim identity and the Islam itself, the Albanian Muslim Forum makes an appeal to the President of the Republic of Albania as a guarantor  of the Albanian Constitution, to the Attorney General’s office as the assembly of penal pursuit as well as to the international organizations that operate in Albania, to take measures in order to put an end to the Islamophobia that  is propagated by some circles within the Albanian society, while considering  these acts to be threatening the freedom of religion and public safety. The persecution of citizens on the basis of their faith violates all international Acts adhered by Albania and it also goes against the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. Practices used  by Albanian believers such as the growing of the beard, wearing the veil etc, that seem to concern Mr. Kulla and Mr. Balliu, are religious norms that are provided by the Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as Articles X and XXIV of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. However, it is evident that the juridical and overall  knowledge of these individuals with regards to these fundamental human rights is below the accepted  minimum and not even close to the level required for public officials like them. The practice of religious norms is a constitutional and conventional right of every citizen in the Republic of Albania. So the concern  that Mr. Kulla and Mr. Balliu bring forward with regards to the mullahs and other believers that grow beards, is viewed by the Albanian Muslim Forum as part of the Islamophobia and anti-Muslim politics that is sponsored by some anti-Albanian and racist circles. Summing up, the Albanian Muslim Forum makes an appeal to the state institutions, the President of the Republic of Albania, the organizations that defend human rights in Albania, and the foreign embassies, in order that the public statements made by Mr. Kulla as a representative of the Albanian government, and also those of Mr. Balliu are taken note of again as they run contrary to these national and international charter that protects the rights of individuals:

  • The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which Albania is a signing member and is therefore obliged to apply all its specifics.

  • The European Convention of Human Rights of the European Council, of which Albania is also part.

  • The European Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which applies unconditionally to all member states as well as the aspiring states which want to become members of the Union.

  • The Constitution of  the Republic of Albania as the fundamental document of the Albanian state with regards to guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of the people, most importantly that of conscientiousness and faith in religion.

  • The normative of the Penal Code of the Republic of Albania set to defend the dignity and against the discrimination of citizens based on religion.  

In conclusion, we call on Mr. Kulla, Mr. Balliu and others, representatives or not of public institutions, to apologize publicly for the discrimination and humiliation directed to Muslims, and the Islamophobia that they show time and again in our medias.



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