The International and Interfaith Conference “Human Fraternity”
The Interreligious Council of Albania in cooperation with ENIB, Religions for Peace Europe held on February 10, 2022, the interfaith conference “Human Fraternity” with representative leaders of religious communities, US Ambassador to Tirana H.E. Yuri Kim, Apostolic Nuncio H.E. Luigi Bonazzi and the President of ENIB Religions for Peace Europe Dr. Luigi De Salvia! Well-known Muslim and Christian clerics, representatives attended the activities from academia, intellectuals, youth and women from all religious communities. In the first session moderated by Dr. Genti Kruja, Secretary General of the ICRA and Vice President of ENIB Religions for Peace Europe greeted the five heads of religious communities who are members of the Board of the Presidency. Dr. Kruja in his opening speech said, among other things, that: “Today, although the world recognizes the peak of technological and economic development, many countries are facing new and old challenges, with conflicts, intolerance and hate speech, poverty and corruption. And it is in these times of challenges and confrontations with the mentioned above cases, there are chances for efforts for dialogue and cooperation, not only by official states and international organizations, but especially by world leaders of different religious faiths, such as the signing of the document of human fraternity signed between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyib, as their highest religious authorities.” He further gave an overview of the activities of the Interfaith Council of Albania. The President of the Interreligious Council of Albania for 2022 and at the same time President of the Evangelical Brotherhood of Albania Rev. Dr. Ylli Doçi, in his speech he praised the harmony and interfaith coexistence in our country, which stems from Albanian tolerance and tradition, as well as the peace document signed in Abu Dhabi. While the Head of the Muslim Community of Albania H. Bujar Spahiu in his speech said: “My main appeal is for politics, invest in education. For the media, convey a peaceful spirit, do not report unverified information, pay more attention to your educational role in addition to that of profit. For citizens and believers; use communication tools and technology for good purposes, do not fall prey to vanities, manipulation, do not go after the spirit of discord, hatred, lynching of verbal violence through social networks. The Archbishop of Archbishop of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania His Beatitude Anastas Janullatos said, among other things, that, “in Albania, during the last decades, in times of internal crisis, all religious communities tried to unite their voice and their efforts to help people in need. Today we want to emphasize that, in general, the concrete topics for having a creative dialogue between different religious communities are: environmental protection, poverty alleviation, reconciliation of peoples and nations, development, bioethics and above all, peace at the local and global level. We have agreed not to allow the fundamentalist ideas of extremist circles to influence members of our communities. "Our vision has not been simply religious tolerance, but harmonious coexistence." President of the Episcopal Conference of Albania Mons. Angelo Massafra in his speech emphasized that, my wish in this regard is that the analysis made by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheykh Ahmed Al-Tayyib, be the object of research, study and deepening also here on our earth, where individualism and materialist philosophies thrive uncontrollably with consequent loss of values. The World Leader of the Bektashis H. Dede Edmond Brahimaj said among other things that, “my country, Albania, although it has lived through frightening events in the years of communism and then with the difficulties of re-emergence in post-communism, certainly has something beautiful inside. It has the precious pearl of the model of religious harmony and coexistence. We, ordinary religious leaders and believers, devotedly worshiping the Creator, preserving and respecting religious and patriotic traditions, confessed to civilized Europe that despite all kinds of storms, love for God, for one another, understanding and religious solidarity remain like a wonderful jewel in the necklace of our identity.” The World Leader of the Bektashis H. Dede Edmond Brahimaj said among other things that, “my country, Albania, although it has lived through frightening events in the years of communism and then with the difficulties of re-emergence in post-communism, certainly has something beautiful inside. It has the precious pearl of the model of religious harmony and coexistence. We, ordinary religious leaders and believers, devotedly worshiping the Creator, preserving and respecting religious and patriotic traditions, confessed to civilized Europe that despite all kinds of storms, love for God, for one another, understanding and religious solidarity remain like a wonderful jewel in the necklace of our identity.” Afterwards, the US Ambassador in Albania, Mrs. Yuri Kim greeted. She praised the role of the Interfaith Council of Albania, saying among other things: “It is no exaggeration to say that Albania is seen as a world leader when it comes to religious freedom and interfaith harmony. Your voice is especially powerful due to Albania’s history and Albania’s values. The Albanian people have always embraced the opportunity to help fellow humans in need. The tradition of tolerance, acceptance, and cooperation continues to this day as evidenced by the Interfaith Council representing Albania’s five main faith groups, which is a productive model to be emulated. I commend the Council for its excellent work to promote interfaith dialogue and harmony domestically and internationally. societies. But religious harmony is never a given and should not be taken for granted. Just look at other countries around the world where religious friction stresses civil society or, worse, freedom of worship is repressed and religious strictures are imposed by the government. To achieve what Albania has requires an unwavering commitment and respect of our most basic rights – the right to think freely, to follow our beliefs, and to express those beliefs in private and in public”, said among other things the US Ambassador in Tirana, Mrs. Yuri Kim. While the Apostolic Nuncio in Tirana Monsignor Luigi Bonazzi also praised the interfaith harmony and cooperation through the work and activities of the Interreligious Council of Albania, and among other things said that, “Pope Francis does not hesitate to say in a lapidary way that ours is not "a time for indifference: either we are brothers and sisters, or everything falls apart”, he said, among other things. The special guest of this conference was Dr. Luigi De Salvia, President of ENIB Religions for Peace Europe. In his speech he emphasized that he felt happy to be in Albania for the first time for the fact that he is of Arbëresh origin. He praised the spirit of interfaith harmony in Albania, as a model for Europe and beyond. The conference continued with a press conference, where young people from religious communities spoke about the role of women and youth in preserving universal values, promoting education and interfaith dialogue in our country. Initially, Sister Ermira Koleci spoke on behalf of the Department of Women in the Interfaith Council of Albania, which focused on interfaith dialogue and the perspective of women. The session then continued with the five young people of the Youth Department. Thus Hysni Skura spoke about the role of young people in interfaith dialogue in the Interfaith Council of Albania. He stressed that youth is the engine of a nation, therefore preparing them with universal and human values is the best investment that can be made for a nation. Today’s youth will be the leaders of tomorrow. Interreligious dialogue should take place in several forms such as: practical dialogue, exchange of religious experiences, theological dialogue, etc. Alban Petro spoke about the role of women in promoting interfaith dialogue, emphasizing the activities and contribution of the Department of Women in IRCA in this area. While Jeta Deda, has presented a proposal for the possibility of education with basic culture on the history of traditional religions in Albania of student audiences in Albanian universities to avoid the language of misinformation, hatred and ignorance in the print and visual media. Evisa Beho also spoke about the role of several factors to reduce religious radicalism, such as measures that can be taken by local government, as well as the role that the family should have, as the first basic cell of society. While Alesio Sema, spoke about the education of children with religious education, because faith is closely linked to the cultural identity of most people in the world, teaching them to respect people of other religions, to cultivate love and understanding, and not hatred. Part of the activity was the photo exhibition “Interfaith Harmony in Albania”, which exhibited historical photos of interfaith harmony in Albania, activities of the Interfaith Council, and part of interfaith cooperation between theological departments in our country.