Panepirotic Federation Condemns Brutal Attack Against Greek Orthodox Christians in Albania

Premeti_Kabanes

The Panepirotic Federation of America (POA) strongly condemns the brutal attack on a Greek Orthodox church in the city of Premet in southern Albania on August 16 by hired government thugs who smashed icons and crosses and beat up worshippers trying to defend the only Christian house of worship in the city.

“The attack on the Church of the Vergin Mary, on the morning after her feast day, revived ugly memories of past attempts by government agencies of outgoing Prime Minister Sali Berisha to harass, intimidate and brutalize ethnic Greek Orthodox communities in Albania,” said POA President Demetrios Koutoulas. “The conduct of municipal authorities in Premet, with the obvious consent of the Berisha government, was outrageous and far from responsible behavior for a country seeking to enter the European Union.”

He called on the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress to pressure the Albanian government to return the church to the Orthodox Christians of Premet who venerate it and whose ancestors built it.

The church served Orthodox Chrisitians in the area for decades until 1967 when Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha outlawed all religious worship in the country and it was turned into a cultural center. After the collapse of Communism in Albania in 1991 and the Orthodox Church was re-established in the country, it became a church once gain and used for worship until August 16 when security forces hired by the Mayor of Premet Gilberto Giatse moved into the church, beat up priests and worshipers, smashed icons and crosses and announced the municipality was reclaiming the building as a cultural center.

The actions were immediately condemned by the Greek government, the Orthodox Church of Albania, political action groups representing ethnic Greeks in the country and human rights organizations in the region.

Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos sent a demarche to Tirana protesting the actions of municipal authorities in Premet and calling for the return of the church.

Archbishop Anstastasios, the primate of the Orthodox Church of Albania, called the brutal actions in Premet an attack not only on the Orthodox Church but also on Albania itself. “We are moved to ask if we find ourselves in 2013 where we enjoy democracy and have hopes of entering the European Union or if we are reliving the nightmare of 1967 when an atheistic party believed that it could uproot forever the religious faith of the Albanian people,” he said in a statement.
OMONIA, the political action group representing the ethnic Greek minority in Albania, disputed the claims of Premeti municipal authorities that they had court sanction to return the church to a cultural center. “A questionable court decision cannot be used as an excuse to desecrate in such a violent way an established holy site,” the group declared.
KEAD and MEGA, two political parties in Albania supported by ethnic Greeks and Orthodox Christians in the country, also protested the attack on the Premeti Church.

Evangelos Doules, the president of KEAD and a member of the Albanian Parliament, said the attack reminds the world that Albania is the only country that declared war on God “turning into stables, warehouses and cultural centers the houses of worship of its religious communities.”

Kristaq Kristaqis, the presdent of MEGA, said the violence against the Church of the Vergin in Premet “reflects the rage with which certain political groups in Albania view everything that is Greek or Orthodox.”

Human rights groups in the region called on Albanian authorities to end the occupation of the church and find other space for a cultural center.


33 COMMENTS

    • they hate Greeks hankz. they hate Greece because everything they do in their life, in their school, in their university, they are always bein taught about Greece and Greeks. So miserable

      • You ain’t nobody!!! “1821” teach us what you really were, just some orthodox peasant who got nothing to do with ancient greeks like homer, sokrates and co. ;)

        • oh well i would bother giving the links of the dodecad project, and of the Stanford & Pavia university, who all prove that modern Greeks have ancient Greek’s ancestry, through DNA research, but u know what? You dont deserve it. Go google them by yourself

        • well i did replied to ur comment, giving you links that prove, through scientific research of DNA, the origin of Greeks, but seems like Greek reporter wont upload them…
          How can i hav a convo when they do this?

          • Attempting to prove one’s racial continuity through time is a useless an endeavor. Get a DNA test, have your eyes opened to the truth: that you are connected to non-Greeks and people and places further afield that you ever imagined. The same is true of every person on earth.

          • Yeah, remember that when you promote your dubious claims of Albanians being descended from Illyrians.

          • Nobody is ‘purely’ descended from anyone, and I have never asserted anything to the contrary. We are all part of a melting pot, throughout all time.

      • We Albanians don’t hate Greeks. Far from it. We just can’t understand how it is that Greece operates as theocratic plutocracy utterly unaccountable to its own people or to Brussels. We don’t understand how it is that the Church of Greece was allowed to become Greece’s largest landlord, or how it is that the national media of Greece and its offshoots in America consistently find the time and resources to antagonize believers and non-believers in Albania and stir the pot along race lines. We are not sure why so many in Greece’s media trivialize the separation of religion from the state. We are also in disbelief at the rise of nazism and hate groups in Greece today. There are many schools teaching the Greek language to Albanians throughout southern Albania. There are none teaching the Albanian language throughout northwestern Greece.

    • The Jirecek Line runs right through Albanian-inhabited lands. Our people were entirely Orthodox and Catholic before the Ottoman Conquest. Today, a solid majority of Albanians, whether from a Christian or Muslim background, are only nominally religious, and every Albanian must respect the separation of religion from the state in Albania, as in America.

    • I am an Albanian Orthodox and you sir are a fucking disgrace for Christianity. You Greeks have no respect or love for God because you are fucking racist and fascist every time you speak about religion you mix it with territories and race.
      That’s what your church has taught you for centuries. And that is why we Albanians have our own Albanian Orthodox Church independent from the racist Greek church that mixes the religion with race.The person who separated the Albanian Church from the Greek one is a hero for all Albanians-Orthodox, Catholics, Muslims….
      I am an Albanian Orthodox and I have to say that Greek Orthodox church is a disgrace for Christianity because a church cannot preach hate between different nations, racism or fascist politics and unfortunately the Greek church has done that for centuries.

  1. Laws apply everywhere, once the history is rewritten then the truth will come out. Don’t raise your voice against Albania, try to do that against Turkey and you will see. Albania has Muslims, Orthodox, Catholics, and plenty of other religions which are free to worship. Tell me this do you have any Mosque in Athens? So called a democratic country does not respect the will of the people, The most racist people in the world are Greeks.

      • This was is an internal affair concerning the communicants of an Orthodox parish inside Albania. An atrocity committed on Albanian soil is not an attack on Greeks, on Greece, or on Orthodoxy. It will be dealt with by the Albanian authorities and the Albanian people, who have no tolerance for faith-based bigotry of any variety. Albania is a country with many religions and no religion, with a constitutional separation of religion from the state, as in America.

        • “It will be dealt with by the Albanian authorities and the Albanian
          people, who have no tolerance for faith-based bigotry of any variety.” We’ll see…

      • She wasn’t saying she hated Greeks. This story concerns an atrocity committed on Albanian soil. To qualify it as an attack on Greeks, on Greece, or on Orthodoxy is totally inappropriate. The matter will be dealt with by the Albanian authorities and the Albanian people, who have no tolerance for faith-based bigotry of any variety. Albania is a country with many religions and no religion, with a constitutional separation of religion from the state, as in America.

    • Laws apply everywhere except Albania, apparently. And by the way, there are hundreds and hundreds of active mosques in Thrace, where the majority of Greek Muslims live, so don’t even try to lecture Greece about religious rights–especially when compared to Albania!! Albania has been oppressing the ethnic Greeks of northern Epirus for decades — even before communism — and this is just another chapter of it as Albanians become more emboldened by Kosovo; it’s plain knowledge that Albania harbors irridentist plans against their neighbors. Finally, your statement that “Greeks are the most racist people in the world” is so ironically racist, it’s beyond comical.

  2. This is Albania, and you can’t do whatever you like in our internal issues you bankrupt malakas.

    • In Greek words change under the singular and plural form. So it is “malakes” not “malakas”. But i dont expect your poor Albanian language to teach you something like that ;)

      • As the Arvanites of Greece would admonish you, for this ‘poor Albanian language’ to which you refer, rooted, as it is, in the ancient Illyrian language, the key to unlocking the etymology of the gods and goddesses upon which most of Greek mythology is based.

    • Bankrupt, malakes, eh? And yet SO many Albanians benefited from the Greek economy for SO many years, sending their remittances home to help keep their families alive. And Albania is still in worse shape economically than Greece. Now, who’s the malaka?

      • Albanians living in Greece have banked and saved more money as immigrants than the Greeks themselves, and that’s a credit to them as a reliable workforce. Albanians didn’t come to Greece seeking a handout – they came seeking an opportunity to bring themselves out of poverty and despair, and they were content to do the jobs the Greeks themselves wouldn’t do any longer. It’s a bit rich to be condemning this practice, as the same could be said about millions of Greeks who made their money working as immigrants in the diaspora – in America, Canada, Western Europe, Australia. For the most part, Albanians and Greeks are hard-working, industrious people, and good citizens who care about their communities, wherever they’ve settled. They’ve raise their kids to be respectful and contributing members of society. Really, no matter which way you slice it, you can’t say that Albanians haven’t made a positive contribution to the Greek state as a group. They have saved their money. They have paid their taxes. They speak Greek, and raise their kids to be good, law-abiding citizens of the Greek state.

  3. USA Greek Reporter Editor Mr Anastasios Papapostolou should, I expect, know the difference between propaganda and reportage. That being said, this article reads far more like a press release from the Panepirotic Federation than unbiased, objective reporting.

    Likewise, Papapostolou’s colleague, Maria Korologou, whose article, entitled, “Albanians Pull Down Bell Tower in Përmet”, appears to be written from the perspective of a person who lacks not only accurate knowledge of Përmet and its demographics, but even the most basic understanding of internationally-recognized borders and laws in a republic where religion and the state are absolutely separate. An Orthodox Christian parish in Përmet, Albania, is ecumenically under the jurisdiction of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, based in Tirana, the capital city, not the Orthodox Church of Greece,

    The Greek Reporter owes its readers a higher calibre of journalism and it is a total abdication of responsibility when a major website such as this functions as the de-facto propaganda arm of fascist elements within the Orthodox Church of Greece. An isolated incident such as this is an internal matter for Albania’s own law enforcement and jurisprudence to straighten out. It is most definitely not the violation of Greek sovereignty or national identity which are alluded to in these articles.

    The future of the Greek people and the Albanian people within Europe will be secure and bright in direct proportion to their ability to confront their most deeply-held biases and prejudices wherever they arise. Accordingly, any American-based, American journalist of Greek or Albanian ancestry writing about Balkan affairs would do well to examine the subtle, little known, terribly important distinctions between what it means to live in a ‘democracy’ and what it means to live in a ‘republic’, and how the separation of religion from the state is one way of keeping a society from spiraling into sectarian strife, anarchy and theocratic plutocracy. I hope Anastasios Papapostolou and Maria Korologou understand that as journalists. For it is their responsibility to convey unbiased information to an educated public with critical thinking skills and to guard against inadvertently becoming mouthpieces for extremists.

    • Okay, since you are so knowledgeable, enlighten us: was this or was it not an attack on a Greek Orthodox Church located in an area of Albania with a sizable Greek minority? Has there not been a persistent history of repression and persecution against the ethnic Greek communities in southern Albania since Albania was formed in 1912? Is it “extremist” to acknowledge this history, which enlightens this most recent example of racism against Greeks in Albania? Is it wrong for Greeks in Greece to protest against these injustices against their ethnic brethren in a neighboring country? If the shoe was on the other foot, Albanians would be out in the streets, screaming for blood, and we all know it.

      • This was an act of vandalism committed on an Orthodox Christian parish and an act of provocation against its communicants. The church and the communicants in question are located in Albania, not in Greece. I repeat: the church in question is not an Orthodox parish in Greece, it is an Orthodox parish in Albania. Its communicants are not citizens of the Greek state, they are citizens of the Albanian state. Orthodox Christians, Muslims, believers, non-believers – Albanians are all of one mind when one of us is attacked for our religious beliefs. This is a provocation against the universal rights of humankind to freedom of worship and freedom of association.

      • PS: Let’s keep the dialogue in the present tense, because that’s where we are – the present. Last time I checked the calendar, we were in September of 2013. One more time: this was an act of vandalism on a parish under the control of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, inside Albania not the Orthodox Church of Greece, in Greece. This is not an ethnic conflict, so for your own sake, don’t make it into one.

  4. Greek orthodox in Albania?!! We have Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, we are NOT Greek orthodox, we are Albanian Orthodox. Stop mixing religion with race. Albanians are Orthodox,Catholics,Muslims.. we are not Italians, Greeks, or Turkish. I am an Albanian Orthodox and I am not Greek, What happened in Permet is an Albanian issue and Greeks have nothing to do with it. Orthodox people in Albania have fought for the prosperity of Albania and they have given their lives trying to stop racist Greek Church.That is why we have our own church independent from the Greek one. Everyone in Albania respects one another for who they are and what they have done in life and not for their religion.

    ALBANIA’S RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE OFFERS AN EXAMPLE FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD. Unfortunately we can’t say the same about Greece.

    This article is bullshit. I wonder what do you call Albanian Buddhists? Asian, Indian?

    Leave Albanian orthodox alone because we do not have anything to do with your corrupt, racist, fascist church.

  5. in albania have to much GREEK,VLACHIAN(VLAH) and SLAVIAN ORTHODOKS PEOPLE…the albanians politik like albanian country are falsifikated everything….the albanian origin,the albanian teritorry and the religions …this is a truth….i give one of more falsifikated story for this country…Skenderbeu isnt albanians…he is SLAVIAN(SERBIAN -MONTENEGRO OR BULGARIAN)…HIM MOHTER NAME IS VOJISLAVA (not Vojsava how albanians lie)…the him brothers are KONSTANTIN-REPOSH and STANISHA….all slavians 1000% names,him sisters are ANGELINA,MAMICA,VLLAJKA,JELENA(JELLA) and MARA 1000 % percent slavians names…and the true HAMZA KASTRIOTI NAME(STANISHA SUN) ARE BRANILO…1000 PERCENT SLAVIAN NAME…HOW IS SKENDERBEU GJORGJIE WAS ALBANIAN>????????????BIG LIE BIG FALSIFIKATED….NEVER THE ALBANIANS TELL THE TRUTH FOR EVERYTHING….THIS IS A PROBLEM

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