THE MUSLIM FORUM OF
We, the citizens of Shkodra, have learned through our local media that the Council of our city’s municipality in one of its forthcoming meetings is planning to approve the placement of a statue of the catholic saint, mother Theresa, at the city’s entrance.
We know and agree with the evaluations that this humanitarian personality has received in our country, by having her name put into many squares, hospitals, and Tirana’s airport. We also have had no objection to the placement of her statue near Tirana’s University, since this lady has been a well known humanitarian personality. But the placement of the statue of this catholic personality in Shkodra, where the religious atmosphere is not so calm, we fear, will further infuriate the religious tension in our city. Considering what has happened in our city lately – the illegal placement of crosses and their uprooting in Bushat; the placements of other crosses in Beltoje; the attempt of certain people who want to turn the Mosque of the Castle into a church; as well as the improper balances in employment that exist in our city’s administration – we believe that it will be a smart thing to avoid the placement of mother Theresa statue in the city of Shkodra.
The community of Muslims of Shkodra feels that it is its primary duty to contribute to the enhancement of the religious understanding and tolerance in our city, since this has been a great value our city has always been proud of. But the plans for placing the statue of a catholic saint in our city’s entrance are a direct threat to our inherited tolerance, and we see this act as an open tendency which aims to destroy our harmony, as a result of which the citizens of our country might suffer.
The respect for other religious communities has been and must be one of the corner stones upon each our coexistence is built and maintained. Because of this, we believe that the motives for placing this statue in our city are not convincing enough for being approved. The statue of a catholic saint in the entrance of a laic city, where mixed religious communities live, is an open attempt of jeopardizing the harmonious religious coexistence of the citizens of Shkodra.
The Muslims of Shkodra have always been known for the respect they have shown towards other communities, while always demanding to receive the same in return. For these reasons, we regard the attempts for the placement of the statue of this catholic saint in public places as a new provocation whose aim is to destroy our coexistence and fit the agenda of those who aim to achieve this. Our opinion is that such statues must be placed in places where they belong and at the same time, where they enrich the religious values to which they belong to.
Consequently, we believe that it is our duty to appeal to the Municipality of Shkodra and in particular to its head, Mr. Artan Haxhi, to the Municipality’s Council and the Shkodra’s Prefect and demand their review of this project, which has irritated the Muslim community of our city. At the same time, we demand that they resolve this matter by finding a solution that does not harm the religious tolerance of our city. In addition, we appeal to the leaders of the religious communities of Shkodra to directly engage in resolving this problem, since it will help sustain and reinforce the harmony that our city enjoys.
In particular, we appeal to the members of our Municipal Council to take into consideration and evaluate our concern, by treating with much responsibility the delicate nature of this statue’s placement into a public square.
We remind them, that their voting in the Municipality’s Council is a heavy challenging act that will prove their seriousness, civility, responsibility and the feeling of accountability in the front of Shkodra’s citizens, by giving in this way the best answer to it and aiming the preservation of the inter-religious tolerance in our city, with what we have always been proud of.
The Islamic Charity Association of
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The Muslim Forum of Albania is an NGO, part of the Albanian Civil Society whose aim is the fight against racism, discrimination and Islamophobia. For having more information on us please visit: www.forumimusliman.org
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