One of the most discussed topic over the years about the Albanians is the religious tolerance and the nonexistence of discrimination between the Christian and Muslims. At this moment, when the world is in conflicts because of fundamentalism, religion, and beliefs, the Albanians are an interesting example to be mentioned and to discover the roots of traditions and history of the people. This fact encouraged and inspired even Pope Francis, who began his first European trip outside Italy, from Albania, as a symbol of the harmony between Christians and Muslims at a time when terrorist groups were attacking innocent people.
What are the factors that contribute to religious tolerance?
Based on the recent study from the UNDP in 2018 about religious tolerance, a factor that contributes to the tolerance is secularization. This concept means that governance, science, education, laws, are detached from religion and individuals are free to choose their beliefs. The second factor is the repression of religion during the communism, which separated the generations from the symbols and rituals of religion and vanished any experience from the past. The last factor is the lack of information and knowledge about religion. Nowadays Albanians who practice religion are convinced that practicing is about believing in God rather than practicing rituals. On the other hand, there are many people who do not know pretty much about the rituals and practices of the religion they believe.
What are the perceptions of Albanian about religious tolerance?
They mostly consider it as a fundamental value and they think the leaders of religious communities play an important role in the harmony of religious tolerance. For instance, the marching side by side of four Albanian clerics, one for each of the traditional religions in the solidarity demonstration that took place in Paris, the aftermath of the terrorist attack against the magazine Charlie Hebdo. This behavior is a clear comprehension and solidarity about the freedom of beliefs, that exist in Albanians and still in present-day the Albanian society values greatly the slogan of the intellectual Vaso Pasha (1880): The religion of the Albanians is Albanianism.
According to those facts and studies, the most frequent factor of religious tolerance is the dominance of national traditions, and culture more than religious ones. The isolation during the communism period has been a deep gap between the religions and the traditions, which still persist in the lack of information of the new generations.
Reflections on the Religionless Society: The Case of Albania