Saturday, September 18, 2010

Albanian Muslim Leader Sacks Critics

Tirana | 18 September 2010 |
Muslims praying in Albania’s capital, Tirana.
Muslims praying in Albania’s capital, Tirana.

A group of Albanian Muslim community leaders who tried to dismiss Selim Muca, the head of the Albania Muslim Community, have themselves been sacked.

The Mufti of Tirana Ilir Vokshi, the General Secretary of the Council of the Muslim Community Betim Truci and the Mufti of Kukes, Ali Hallaci, were dropped from their posts in the organisation on Thursday for trying to fire Muca by “illegally slandering his name.”

Selim Muca
Selim Muca

Vokshi, Truci and Hallaci had tried to vote Muca out of office a day earlier on grounds he was not properly managing the organisation’s affairs and was creating schisms in the Islamic community.

But, in his dismissal of them, Muca said in a statement on Thursday the attempts to dismiss him were "illegal and against the statute” of the organisation.

“These individuals have no competence for this kind of decision making,” Muca said.

First selected as head of the Muslim Community of Albania in 2004, Muca was re-elected in 2009 in a contested election, which was challenged in court by a group of imams.

Following a short trial the court ruled in favour of Muca, while the imams went on to create a splinter organisation.

Unofficial statistics suggest about 70 per cent of Albanians are culturally Muslim - mainly Sunni, with a significant number following the Bektashi order. About 20 per cent are Christian Orthodox and 10 per cent Catholics.

The last census to include any religious denomination was carried out in 1946.

In 1967, Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha declared the country to be the first atheist nation in the world.

According to the 2007 Religious Freedom Report by the US State Department, less than 40 per cent of all Albanians are currently actively religious, and intermarriage between different groups is common.

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