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 the maintenance 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."

Over the years, in addition to participation in several international conferences, the Interreligious Council of Albania has often made press releases on common issues in the interests of the society, in defense of the universal values, and in the framework of promoting 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, headed by Mr. Ylli Doçi.
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 Catholic Episcopal Conference of Albania, 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.
a) "The highest decision-making body of the IRC of Albania Center is the Council of the Presidency, which consists of the Leaders of the religious communities participating in the Center. It convene not less than twice a year and in special cases.
The Chairman of the Presidency Board has a one-year mandate and the heads of the religious communities will have this duty on a rotating basis. At the meeting organized by the Presidency Board in 2018, the rotation for the next 5 years was also approved. Thus the head of the Interreligious Council of Albania for 2019 was appointed the head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, His Beatitudes Anastasios, for 2020 the head of the Catholic Church Mons. George Frendo, for 2021 World Grandfather of the Bektashi Community H. Dede Edmond Brahimaj, for 2022 the President of the Evangelical Alliance of Albania Pastor Ylli Doçi, while for 2023 the Chairman of the Muslim Community of Albania H. Bujar Spahiu. The Secretary General was elected Assoc. Prof. Dr. Genti Kruja and financier Mrs. Sheldiana Jano Agaraj.

The mission of Interreligious Council of Albania is 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.

On March 22, 2021, the President of the Republic, Mr. Ilir Meta, decorated the Interreligious Council of Albania with the high medal "Honor of the Nation" with the motivation:

"In appreciation of the comprehensive contribution to preserving and promoting the spirit of harmony, understanding and coexistence between religions in Albania. For clear messages addressed to the believers of Albanian politics to aim the peace, unity, progress and orientation towards patriotic values for a common and optimistic life; as well as for the important role in raising the Albanian model of inter-religious dialogue in the international arena”.

While on November 17, 2021, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs awarded the Interreligious Council of Albania the Intercultural Achievement Recognition Award for assistance to families in need in the earthquake area, a project implemented during the pandemic by the Department of Youth in IRCA and realized with the support of Religions for Peace in which IRCA is a full member.

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