Saudi promises aid to Albania

November 25, 1994

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Islamic Affairs, Abdullah Bin Abd al-Mushin al-Turki, last week promised extensive aid to education in Albania.

During discussions with Albania's education minister, al-Turki said that every effort would be made to organise scholarships for Albanian students to study in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis would also help with the development of Islamic studies in Albania.

Islam is the traditional mainstream religion of Albania. The last available statistics, dating from the 1930s, put the religious allegiance of the population at more than 60 per cent Muslims, with 25 per cent Orthodox and 10 per cent Roman Catholic.

Now, after decades as the "World's First Atheist State", Albania's new leaders, while maintaining the separation of religion and state, nevertheless see the revival of religion as an important part of the process of national regeneration.

In all religions, however, there is an acute shortage of leaders capable of relating their faith to modern society.

This lack is particularly acute in the Muslim community, and the Saudi offer of help could prove a major boon.

The Saudis have already given considerable help to the "Islamic south" of the former Soviet Union, including huge consignments of Korans, and financial help in the building and refurbishment of mosques.

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