Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Salute to Nexhat Osmani and Albania

One of my favourite Albanian singers is Nexhat Osmani. The video in this posting will be the second posted on a Winter Riders website. Albania has fascinated me since childhood. From 1944 until the late 1980's, no Americans could enter Albania unless they were ethnic Albanians. It was a shrill critic of Soviet and Chinese Communism, decrying their abandonment of Stalinism. It maintained a tense ceasefire with neighbouring Jugoslavia, and claimed ominously that two thirds of Albanians lived under the rule of non-Albanians.
The kingdom of Albania was very hospitable to Jews within its borders during World War Two. Albania resisted foreign occupation with no outside assistance. It should be noted in fairness that the Italian occupiers of Albania were also relatively kind to the Jewish population under their jurisdiction as well. Albania is about 70% Muslim, practicing a variety of Islam that bears little resemblance to the Saudi or Iranian varieties . In many ways, Albanian ethnicity trumps religious allegiance. A notable division in the country is linguistic. The Gheg dialect that is spoken in the north of Albania has some inflectional and vocabulary differences from the Tosk dialect spoken in the south of the country. Albanian is not Slavic, Grecian or Turkic. It is at its core unrelated to the languages of its neighbours. It is a language that stands alone.There is a minority of about 260,000 ethnic Greeks in the country. Although they suffered discrimination under the Hoxha communist dictatorship, their lot has improved considerably. It can be said with certainty that they suffer less discrimination than do Albanians in Greece.
Despite some improvements, particularly in the area of political and religious freedom, Albania remains the poorest country in Europe. Despite this, Albania is a country of breathtaking beauty. It definitely has growth potential in the area of tourism. Despite the uniqueness of its language, its music has some similarity to other music in the Balkan region.
Albania is eager to move forward in the twentieth century. It would be a good idea for Western countries to invest in this fascinating moderate Muslim country. Democracy in any location fares far better on a full stomach. Albania, which only gained independence from Turkey in 1912 is still writing the early chapters of its modern history. It would be wise for America and Europe to lend a helping hand. Sphere: Related Content

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