Thursday, May 22, 2008

Liberty Growing In Albania

I am writing from Albania. I am here with Albania Venture 2008, a group of students from The King's College debating with students from the University of New York Tirana on the subjects on political, economic and spiritual liberty. Actually there has been no controversy on the first two topics. We are all in agreement. Ho hum, but good news for the future and liberty of Albania. On the the religious topics, there was heated debate, because they are all so spiritually indifferent.

The people here love America, they love freedom and want to see it institutionalized here. President Bush received a wildly enthusiastic reception here last summer. Monday, I addressed the small University of New York Tirana audience on the difference between politicians and statesmen. On Wednesday, I addressed a packed and hot auditorium on "Liberty and Moral Responsibility." (Dr. Alex Tokaraev also spoke on economic liberty.) This was a University of Tirana event sponsored by The Forum for Democracy and Ethics, an inter-party group that promotes integrity among the nation's political leaders. That night, I spoke at the New Life Institute, an Evangelical Christian group, on "The Problem and Promise of Religion in a Democracy." I presented the thesis that Christianity, as a faith, supports political liberty, whereas Islam, as a law, is hostile to liberty. As there were Muslims in the audience, that stirred up a lot of debate, but no one threatened me with death. This is Albania. (Dr. Harry Bleattler also spoke of the separation of church and state from a historical perspective.) Albania is 70% Muslim but the Islam here is almost entirely nominal and politically harmless.

It would be a mistake to think that the love for liberty and love for America in Albania translates into a healthy political system. The dominant political concern among the people with whom I have spoken is corruption in the government. When communism fell in 1991, The old guard simply abandoned their old colors and joined the Socialist Party and the Democratic Party. Hence, the penchant for corruption among those in power. There appears to be great hope in the younger generation, but only if they are not tempted by the old ways of corruption. Bret Schundler, the former mayor of Jersey City who successfully fought corruption in that city, is addressing that issue in various forums this week and is meeting with the mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, this morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the second story I have read concerning parts of Europe that have a natural, homegrown population of Muslims whose Islam goes back centuries. These are not fascist jihadists and they appear quite capable of living in peace with others, even Jews (?).

In other parts of Europe, where unassimilated immigrants are imported to serve as cheap labor, and who bring violent Middle Eastern and northern African strains of Islam into isolated communities, you get instead a bomb ready to blow. They want to take you over and crush you.

I'm amazed to see that Albania could ever be seen to be impressive and forward-looking. I always thought, in the past, that Albania was one of the darkest and most repressive of the Iron Curtain countries.