The Albanian church of Saint Athanasius was destroyed
August 26, 2015. At around 4 o’clock in the morning, the Orthodox church of St. Athanasius was secretly and insidiously destroyed by construction inspection forces, which arrived from other areas of the country. The purpose was to avoid any conflicts with the residents of Dhermi in Himara. All the sacred utensils were buried under the rubble, as reports Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania press service.
According to the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, this incident is a violation of the universal right of belief and secularism and a violation of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Albania and the Orthodox Church of Albania (Law no. 10057, 22.01.2009). Under this Law “Buildings and facilities which serve for religious ceremonies and services are considered sacred by the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. The intervention of the state authorities is prohibited…” (Article 21 / 1, 2). The intervention was made without prior official or informal notification and the clergy were ignored. The hierarchical representatives, Protopresbyter Fr. Pandeli Mitru, Fr. Efthim Bixhili and Fr. Athanasius Kareem demanded an explanation by local authorities. After the first attempt of destruction of the church on 21st August, the Albanian State affirmed to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they would not go further. The Greek Ministry welcomed the commitment to respect for and full protection of the individual, religious and property rights of the minorities in Albania.
The local authorities claimed that the church was an illegal construction recently built. However, the church was erected by the faithful 20 years ago, in the same place where the old church had been destroyed by the Communist Regime. They said that it was not under the possession of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, but documents prove the opposite.
The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 26th August announced that “until now we have seen the destruction of sanctuaries, churches and sacred utensils only in Middle East and North Africa from djihadists. Today we saw it in our neighbour country”.
Video document of destruction from himara.gr