From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Albania Joins Alliance to Protect Religious Freedom

Albania is set to become a part of a new International Religious Freedom Alliance, spearheaded by the US State Department.

Designed to reduce religious persecution across the world, members are committed to upholding commitments to “freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief”. It also stipulates that citizens of signatory member states can hold any faith or belief, including none at all, and have the freedom to change it.

The declaration also states that members must take a “human rights-based approach to advance freedom of religious beliefs and promoting other human rights”.

Signatories agree to condemn violence and the incitement of violence based on religious belief, challenge violations and abuses of the right to manifest beliefs, oppose restrictions on the freedom to change religion, reject discrimination against citizens based on their religion, and to advocate on behalf of individuals who are persecuted because of their beliefs. 

Other founding countries asides from the US are Poland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Malta, Senegal, and the United Kingdom, amongst others. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the initiative at a dinner this week, stating that “together, we way that freedom of religion or belief is not a Western ideal, but truly the bedrock of societies.”

President Ilir Meta attended the official dinner and gave a speech, noting that “Albania will continue to be an example of interfaith harmony and an active supporter of the Alliance.” He added that” Together with the U.S and our partners, through the Declaration of Principles, we have strengthened our joint commitment to protect and to promote freedom of religion as a fundamental human right and to oppose any form of violence and its violation wherever it occurs.”