Skip to main content


First France, then the UK, now Albania.

Two students at a university in Durres have been suspended - Behije Hoxha for wearing a veil, and Julian Mebelli for wearing a beard. Though I'm not sure how you tell the difference between a beard as a religious statement and a beard as a fashion statement.

I did find a website with an entire section dedicated to the beard in Islam and a s far as I can tell they argue that the beard should be grown and the moustache shaved. This would certainly be an unusual combination for the fashion-conscious beard wearer, and perhaps Mr Mebelli's beard was of this kind.

On the other hand, members of the Saudi royal family, the leader of Hezbollah, and the President of Iran - all overtly Muslim - seem to prefer the full beard and moustache. In fact, Ahmadinejad's is a rather neat effort.

The full face covering that was the issue in the UK does seem to me to be unacceptable in a public context; but it seems a bit much to exclude people for wearing veils that leave the face in view or beards.


téténa said…
I can understand your reaction in un democracy but in un fragile democracy like Albania we can’t joke with the fundamentalist because like you are saying been muslims is not equal having un beard but un laic institution you must put your religion at your own home – I thing
Anonymous said…
yes i remember when i was in school in Tirana. It's not that they prohibit only muslim symbology, they didn't even allow me to carry a cross. Some other girl couldn't wear gold earrings with the crescent moon..etc..I like it this way, you shouldn't impose your religion on other people. Personally i can't stand the veil on the street, let alone in schools!
Anonymous said…
It is not only in Uk, Fr, and Alb, they had a similar ruling in Ger as well. Albania has seen the threat of the east for more than half a millenium, and we know where to say "stop" at these things. But other western european countries are too tolerant with fundamentalists! They don't know what they are getting into! Just look at the Balkans!
Joni said…
I wholeheartedly agree with the decision to disallow veils in schools. Children are susceptible - students even more so. However the "beard-decision" is weird. I think it is too much because you cannot really tell someone not to grow a beard because it might be a religious sign.
traveller one said…
And couldn't wearing a veil also NOT BE a religious symbol... merely "fashion"?
The problem is the hatred and fear we all have about anything "not the same as I am".
I may be idealistic but I support freedom of religious expression but only in combination with tolerance towards others.
WARchild said…
Faleminderit, zonje.
Freudian Slip said…
It is interesting that you compare the two suspensions. It sure does seem a bit much to me as well.

Popular posts from this blog

50 Ways to Make Some Money

The death of communism in Albania brought a flourishing market economy to life just as it did across Central Europe and Russia. On the streets of Tirana people are buying and selling, trading goods and services in predictable, or sometimes novel, ways. The shops are the most obvious expression of this. The streets are lined with little stores selling almost everything you could want. Freed from the choking grip of state bureaucracy Albanians are now at liberty to buy whatever they can afford. No matter how absurd the demand, someone will create the supply. Hence the preponderance of shoe stores in this city of muddy streets and torn up footpaths. Especially outlandish is the fashion for high heeled white boots - about as impractical a style of footware as could be imagined. Dotted across the city are the market stalls, sometimes just one person selling bananas, elsewhere a whole street lined with sellers of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and spices. Those who cannot bring thei…


Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

Petrela Castle

This is Petrela Castle near Tirana. The site has been fortified since the 4th century, but the oldest surviving parts are from the 13th century. Today the castle is a restaurant where you can enjoy lunch while taking in the views.