Corruption charges over Ottoman heritage hit Albania's Islamic body

A new crisis struck last week the Islamic Community of Albania.

Corruption charges over Ottoman heritage hit Albania's Islamic body


World Bulletin / News Desk

A new crisis struck last week the Islamic Community of Albania, the officially recognised religious body that represents the believers in Europe's only country with a Muslim majority.

After the leading bureau of the Islamic Community of Albania (ICA) suspended in absentia its vice-chairman, Sajmir Rysheku, in an extraordinary meeting.

Rusheku – a trained Islamic scholar – accused Selim Muça, the chairman of ICA, for abusive dealings with the religiously trusted proprieties (waqf).

Rusheku said his removal from the office was "a punishment" for his constant opposition of the irregularities on the handlings of religiously trusted proprieties and their sale in reduced prices to private parties.

Rysheku declared that he will resort to legal action against his removal from office, considering it "an infringement" of the internal chart of ICA.

Various Albanian newspapers quote other critics within ICA who also been removed from their offices in the organization and point out that the ICA's practices in selling waqf proprieties with prices much lower than those of the market reference damages not only financially the Islamic Community, but also raises doubts of corruption upon its religious leaders.

The recently sold waqf, for quite a reduced price, it was a real estate propriety in the historic centre of Tirana inherited from the city's founder Suleyman Pasha. This controversial dealing was followed by another inadequate selling of propriety in the centre of Durrës, the second largest city in Albania. While pointing out that in itself the selling of waqf proprieties is a hot topic, critics say that the practice of selling them for reduced prices remains obscure.

"Alleged abuses"

The Islamic Community of Albania during the last decade has been constantly in the headlines of Albanian press for the controversies related to alleged abuses with the religiously trusted proprieties.

In the beginning of 2003, the Secretary General of ICA, the late Salih Tivari, was assassinated in his office at the headquarters of the organization, a few metres away from the Albanian Parliament building. To this day, the perpetrator of this crime remain unknown. The state prosecutor declared that one of the reasons behind his assassination may be related to the conflicts upon the management of waqf proprieties. A few years latter, B.M. the vice-chairman of Islamic Community, received an open death threat from a real estate businessman. The incident was reported in the press, but no legal action followed. The vice-chairman resigned.

The removed vice-chairman Sajmir Rysheku declared to the Albanian newspapers that the Mafia is heavily involved in the management of waqf proprieties of the Islamic Community of Albania.

He openly mentioned the dealings of the leadership of the Islamic Community with the Mihal Delijorgji, a powerful businessman from the Greek minority of Albania, who is actually facing trial for his alleged responsibility in the explosion of an ammunition facility, an explosion that took the lives of 26 people.

The Albanian press cites various statements from Islamic activists, according to whom the alleged low-price selling of the Islamic waqf proprieties, inherited from the Ottoman period, along with the public accusations addressed to the leadership of the ICA for dealings with the mafia, damages not only financially but also morally the revival of Islam in Albania, after decades of Communist dictatorship.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Kasım 2009, 11:35