Friday, September 21, 2007

Tirana on the Mississippi

by Christopher Orlet from The American Spectator

Albania is Europe's only predominately Muslim country, with a population that is about 50% Sunni Muslim and 20% Bektashi (a tolerant, alcohol-guzzling Sufi sect) ... There is a line from a poem by Pashko Vasa (1825-1892) that has become something of a modern proverb: "Churches and mosques you shall not heed / The religion of Albanians is Albanism," or as one Albanian-American put it to me, "Religion and Albania do not belong in the same sentence." Unlike peoples elsewhere Albanians see themselves as Albanians first and Muslim or Christian a distant second. Hopefully this will not change, but as one young Albanian wrote me, the formerly sleepy villages and towns of Albania are today crowded with Christian revivalists and Wahhabi recruiters flush with cash and a sincere hope of reviving their brand of jihad. So far radical Islam has met with little success. Apparently some religious leaders will not be satisfied until Albania is a rat's nest of sectarian discord. Here at the Arber no one is throwing his money around, and perhaps because of this every one gets along fine. Besides its fine cuisine, Albania has a great deal to offer the rest of the world.

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