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Planned bust of Mother Teresa creates friction

Albania's Muslim community says Mother Teresa's bust would not damage harmony, rejecting claims from other associations.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2006 00:37 IST

Albania's Muslim community said on Monday that raising a bust of Mother Teresa in a northern city would not damage religious harmony, rejecting claims from other Muslim associations.

The proposal from the Culture Ministry to put a statue at the entrance to Shkodra, 110 kilometers north of the capital, Tirana, had been opposed the day before by some small Muslim associations.

Selim Muca, head of the Albanian Muslim Community, the organization representing all Muslims in Albania, said that did not represent the official position.

"We respect the contribution of the distinguished figures of our nation, like that of Mother Teresa, who is the honor of our nation," said Muca, adding the local authorities should be careful not to turn such issues into flashpoints between religious communities.

Representatives of the Charity Islamic Association, Islamic Intellectuals and Albanian Muslim Forum opposed the bust, saying the religious situation in Shkodra was "not so calm," citing a vandalized cross in a nearby area in January. It said the bust is a "provocation."

Mother Teresa, an ethnic Albanian, has long been revered in this mostly Muslim country. Tirana's international airport and main hospital are named in her honor, and there is a memorial to her at the National Museum, which also has an annex devoted to her.

Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, putting her on the road to possible sainthood for her life's work building shelters, orphanages and clinics around the world to care for the downtrodden.

First Published: Mar 21, 2006 00:37 IST