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July 24, 2010

The Politics of Christianization in Albania

Published on:
Friday 22 Dec, 2006
Olsi Jazexhi

Since 1913, when the state of Albania came into existence, the only Muslim state of Europe has continuously been attacked by virulent Christian missionary organizations which aim to Christianize its population. The worst waves of Christianization has been after 1991, when the communist regime collapsed in the country. The communists, who destroyed Islam very badly in its religious and cultural infrastructure, created all the needed conditions for the Christianization of de-Islamized Albania. As Miranda Vickers points out in her book Albania: From Anarchy to a Balkan Identity, Albania of 1990’s became a battling ground for many Christian fundamentalist organizations, whose aim was to evangelize the lost Muslim populations of the Ottoman Balkans.
The Christian orders that invaded Albania ranged from the Christ’s Campus Crusaders, Jehovah’s Witness, Adventists, Mormons, Presbyterians and all other types of Christian Protestants which pumped up into Albania from the Christian belt of America as well as many western European countries. However the major players in the field of evangelization has been the old Orthodox and Catholic centers of Christianity which lie just next door to Albania: in Greece and Italy.
The methods that the Christian organizations use for converting Albanians in the religion of Christ, range from the rewriting of the books of the history, to the spread of hate –- anti-Islamic literature — to forced conversion into orthodoxy for the Albanians who want to get a staying permit in Greece, to political blackmails and door to door preaching. Protestant missionaries such as Edwin Jacque have written even a bestseller book on the Christianized history of Albania, while Catholic and Orthodox churches run a number of public schools, universities, radios and TV programmes.
The Christian proselytism receives political support even from the Western embassies that operate in Albania. This can be seen clearly in the politics of the US, Greek and Italian embassies. In the American embassy, in many cases people who get the top jobs there are Albanian renegades, like A. N. who is the closest adviser to US ambassadors. After denouncing Islam and working for Christian Protestants, he — as many other converts — become the most trusted adviser of the American ambassadors, and is a person who penetrates every meeting and backside deals that the powerful embassy carries with Albanian politicians and politics.
However the politics of the employment are not the only example. Other examples of US embassy’s religious propaganda can be seen in the organization of morning prayers that the embassy does time after time with Albanian politicians, ministers and the president with the help of top US preachers. But apart from the Americans, the Italians and Greeks also have a high profile in the support of Christian propaganda in the country. Thus, while the Italians have in many cases become the spokeperson of the Vatican in Tirana — as the example of 23 October 2005 showed — when the Italian ambassador organized the “Mother Theresa” marathon, the Greeks have always stood behind Archbishop Yanolatos and his aggressive propaganda against Islam in the country.
In places like in Kor├ža, the Greek consulates are even built in the premises of the Orthodox Churches. The Greek embassy in every ceremony it organizes in the country has always the Greek bishops in its back and often it sends warnings to the Albanian state about the rights of its Greek Church in the country. The same can be said about the Italians who have in many cases sponsored building of Churches, sponsoring plenty of catholic religious programs and supporting through their institutions the propagation of the Catholic culture. In their embassy in Tirana, when one goes to obtain a visa, one can see how the walls of the embassy are hung with the portraits of Vatican’s saints.

Christian missionaries in Albania are superior in comparison to the Muslim and Bektashi communities of Islam. In my article “Albanians and Islam, Between Existence and Extinction”, I gave a list of what they posses in the country. Bygetting the yearly budgets of millions of US dollars, they have built churches and open Christian centers in almost every town and village of the country. Their huge budgets allow them to have even helicopters at their disposition and enable them, in many cases, reach even the most remote areas of Albania which cannot be accessed even by the government of Tirana itself.
The Christianization policies in Albania reached their peak in 2002, when Albania, finally after 600 years of Muslim history had its Prime Minister, President, Minister of Interior, Chief Spy, Mayor of Tirana, Chief Librarian, Chief Judge, Chief Academician, Chief State Controller, Chief Historian and so on, as Christians. The rule of 20% Christians upon the rest of the 80% Muslim Albanians is ongoing even today. Thus, Albanians at present, apart from having most of their major rulers from the orthodox backgrounds in the political and cultural sphere, are faced with a cultural invasion from the Catholic propaganda.
Since some people believed that Mother Teresa was an Albanian, her cult of personality is sponsored aggressively in the country. Albanian schoolchildren are forced by the ministries of Education and Culture to organize mass rallies in her memory. Those masses are sponsored by the Vatican and Italian embassy. Apart from this, by using their influence on the Albanian state, the catholic propaganda has managed to push the politicians of Albania to put her name in every corner of the country. Thus the only airport of Albania is named after the recently made Catholic saint; `Mother Teresa’, the main boulevard in Tirana is named “Mother Teresa”, the main hospital in Tirana is named “Mother Teresa”, while many other streets, clinics, schools, universities, etc. are named after Catholic saints throughout the country. Examples of these names are the Don Bosko street, Padre Luigi Monti Clinic, The Lady of the Good Council University, etc.
The politics of forced conversions of Albanians into the Catholic sphere was seen even on 19th October 2005, when all schoolchildren of Albania were forced to observe as a state holiday, the day when Vatican beatified mother Theresa. On the 23rd of October, the Italian embassy in Tirana, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, closed all the streets of Muslim Tirana, since the Pope had issued a “bulla” for the subjected Albanians to organize the “Mother Teresa people’s march” in the streets of Albania’s capital. In 9 November 2005, the Orthodox president of Albania, Alfred Moisiu, declared at a meeting in the Oxford Union that all Albanians were Christians, and that Islam is nothing but a foreign religion in Albania.

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