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History of the Interreligious Council of Albania

History of the Interreligious Council of Albania

The Interreligious Council of Albania (IRCA) was established on October 22, 2007 by the four leaders of the traditional religious communities in Albania, Hajji Selim Muça, His Beatitude Anastasios Janullatos, Mons. Rrok Mirdita and H. Dede Reshat Bardhi, and it was also registered at the Tirana District Court. At the meeting of the Presidency Council held on October 22, 2018 full membership of Evangelical Alliance of Albania was also adopted, thus making it the fifth member religious community of the Interreligious Council of Albania.

The Interreligious Council of Albania was inaugurated on October 22, 2009 in the presence of the then President of the Republic of Albania, Prof. Dr. Bamir Topi, who said “It (IRCA) marks the institutionalization of religious tolerance in Albania. This is our common value and our rare virtue, which we will not only export wherever we can, but we will gladly share it with other countries and peoples around the globe. That is why I am here today; not only to celebrate the establishment of a Council so necessary and beneficial to themaintenance of interfaith relations in our country, but also to assure you of my unwavering personal and institutional support for this valuable and significant undertaking, in service of peace, welfare, coexistence and interfaith tolerance”.
At the promotional activity of IRCA establishment, clergymen from all religions assessed the council as an organism which will coordinate regional activities on the problems religious coexistence.
The chairman of Albania’s Muslim Community, H. Selim Muça, said in his speech that attitude towards religions “is not a standpoint or an indication of competition and domination, but a coexistence relationship in service of the society".
For the head of the Orthodox Church in Albania, Archbishop Anastasios Janullatos, "Everyone, Christians and Muslims should work for coexistence as it brings societal progress. Forgiveness and reconciliation cannot be products of a political factor, since religious communities are irreplaceable."

In addition to participating in several international conferences, Albania's Interreligious Council has often appeared in press releases on common issues in the interests of society and in the defense of universal values and in the promotion of interfaith dialogue.
On October 22, 2018, the top leaders of religious communities of Albania held a meeting at the Muslim Community of Albania Headquarters, in which important decisions were made with regard to some changes in the statute of the Interreligious Council of Albania as well as its well-functioning. One of the decisions was full membership in IRCA of Albania’s Evangelical Alliance.
This meeting was attended by H. Skender Bruçaj, chairman of the Muslim Community of Albania, His Beatitude Anastasios Janullatos, head of the Albanian Autocephalic Orthodox Church, Mons. George Frendo, head of the Albanian Bishops' Conference, H. Dede Edmond Brahimaj, head of the World Bektashi Headquarters, and Pastor Ylli Doçi, head of Albania’s Evangelical Alliance.
During the meeting, in addition to statutory changes, decisions were made in terms of institutional management of Interreligious Council, which is composed of the Presidency Council, the Executive Council and the Secretary General.
The highest decision-making body of IRCA Center is the Presidency Council, which consists of the member religious communities’ chairmen and members of the Center. The Executive Council consists of two representative members from each community.
The Chairmanship of the Presidency Council rotates among the IRCA member religious communities every year. For 2019, the Chairman of the Presidential Council was appointed the head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, His Beatitude Anastasios Janullatos, while Secretary General was elected Dr. Genti Kruja, with a three-year mandate.

According to the statute of Interreligious Council of Albania, in case of the change of the chairman of each religious community, the new chairman will be automatically a member of the Presidency Council. On this occasion, following the elections in the Muslim Community of Albania in March 2019, the new chairman of MCA H. Bujar Spahiu is a member of the Presidency Council of Interreligious Council of Albania, confirmed at the IRC of Albania meeting on 16 April 2019.

The Interreligious Council of Albania has as its mission to promote interfaith dialogue and harmony through joint projects and activities.

On October 25, 2018, Interreligious Council of Albania was awarded the "Sergio Vieira De Mello" prize in Krakow, Poland. The award was accorded to the five leaders of the religious communities in Albania, in recognition of promoting reconciliation and pursuing dialogue among religions in Albania. The "Sergio Vieira De Mello" prize is awarded every two years to an individual, group or organization demonstrating special and unique efforts to reconcile people and parties in conflict.

IRCA is a full member of the international multi-religious coalition “Religions for Peace”.

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