Chairman of the Muslim Community Brucaj, General Lleshi, Mr. Gurra, the honorable imams of Albania,
I am a believer in God. As people who believe in God, whether we are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, or Buddhists, we have a duty to stand up for justice in our communities.
To me, that justice includes:
- Standing against domestic violence,
- Support for the education of boys and girls,
- Protection of the poor, and
- Preventing all forms of violence, including violent extremism.
You work every day to promote these values. In particular, you are helping young people to determine the values that they will follow throughout their lives. I hope today you will learn new ideas about how to help young people to avoid the path of radicalization and violence in your communities.
The American Embassy is committed to working on this issue at all levels — with the government, with young people, and with religious leaders. The work of countering violent extremism is not easy. It will take every member of your community working together to counter the false messages from foreign radical groups.
You are the leaders of this movement. In Washington, D.C. several Albanians attended the White House Summit on countering violent extremism last year. Their purpose was to encourage discussions like the one you are having here today.
I hope this event will spark learning, discussion, and debate. I imagine that the best sources for new ideas will be the ideas you learn from each other. The United States is proud to be a partner of the Albanian Islamic Community on this important issue.
I have lived most of my adult life in majority-Muslim countries. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, I lived across from our village mosque. Instead of a minaret, the muezzin would call believers to pray using the biggest drum you have ever seen.
For me, this is one of the most beautiful parts of Islam — that it can adapt and welcome cultural traditions from all peoples. Now, as the world faces the threats of illiteracy, discrimination, violence and oppression, it is more important than ever that Islam help to show the way to a more peaceful world.
Finally, thank you Chairman Bruçaj and Fejzi Shaholli for the leadership you have shown in putting together this conference today. In this important work you have our full and sincere support.