Albania -- Europe's sole Islamic nationAuthor: euroheritage-dot-net
Date of Trip: June 2007
Despite today's portrayal by the liberal West of Communist dictator Enver Hoxha as a brutal and corrupt dictator, he is still mythified as a heroic figure in Albanian culture who unified the Albanians so ripe to foreign rule (including that of Stalin's USSR, Tito's Jugoslavija, Hitler's Germany, Axis Horthy's Hungary, or Axis Antonescu's Romania) into an upright united state with food in every mouth and on every table, all defended by a well-defended nation built collectively by the people. His regime today is disliked for its placement of power in the hands of few, but is praised for its power of a state which historically had almost no importance in European history ever. Equally so, the success of Communism on poverty and starvation problems (or success by their interpretation that is) encourages the desperately poor Albanians to appeal to the left. Albanians' greatest cultural hero, Skanderbeg, who unified Albanian tribes in war against Islam's Jihad, is mythified in the same fashion as the founder of Albania's proud statehood.
It was fascinating to experience such a unique and wickedly poor part of the world, as well as to investigate the strange language and ethnic origins of a people caught between their European Christian heritage and the wake of the mighty Jihad of the Ottomans. Today, Muslim Albania, whose people are such a source of conflict with the local European states, is already approaching membership in the EU, whilst equally non-European Turkey's membership is such a source of dispute between the East and West. It is popularly deemed a drain on Europe that will open the gates to more Albanian immigrants.
I recommend that no foreigner ever travel to Muslim Albania unless it is a port-of-call on a cruise, as we did. Never bring a watch, wallet, or valuables in public. Never walk alone at any hour of the day. Always look behind yourself every few seconds.
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