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'Muslim' Albanians return to Christianity


(BP) — After more than 400 years of being forcibly converted to Islam, many ethnic Albanian Christians are coming out of hiding and Catholicism is experiencing a revival in a newly independent Kosovo.

“We have been living a dual life. In our homes we were Catholics but in public we were good Muslims,” Ismet Sopi of Klina, Kosovo, told a reporter for the Reuters news service.

This year was the first time no one in his extended family had fasted during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Sopi said.

When the Ottoman Turks conquered the Balkans in the 15th century, heavy taxes were imposed on Christians and many people publicly converted to Islam, Jahja Drancolli, a professor at Pristina Public University told Reuters. Christian customs like coloring Easter eggs and celebrating Christmas continued to be practiced among Kosovo’s Albanians for centuries.