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Vandalism The destroyed church of St. Athanasius in Dhermi.

It should be noted that Albanian government does not publish official statistics on hate crime, therefore information in this area may be incomplete.

Several cases of Orthodox churches being desecrated are known to have taken place in 2013, i.e. the burning of Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception Church in the city of Fier (January 20th) , and the attack on Virgin Mary’s Church in Premeti (August 16th) . Around the 19th of August a local outburst of nationalism related to the Premeti church case drove unknown assailants to stone the Greek embassy in Gjirokastra (Gjirokastër).

With regards to the Premeti case – it is important to take note that there exists an official court ruling in favour of confiscating the building the church is currently located in. In 2014, no cases of vandalism have been recorded. However, 2015 saw an outrageous case of a secret demolition of the St. Athanasios Orthodox Church of the Dhermi settlement in the Himara region, where representatives of both Albanian and Greek communities live.

This was carried out early in the morning (4 am) on August 26 by the state construction inspection in order to prevent a conflict between two ethnic communities.

According to the statement of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, this incident is a violation of the universal right to freedom of religion and atheism, as well as a violation of the current agreement between the Government of the Republic of Albania and the Albanian Orthodox Church (Law No. 10057, January 22, 2009). According to this law "Buildings and facilities that serve for religious ceremonies, as well as the ceremonies themselves are considered sacred." Intervention of state authorities in the affairs of the church, in accordance with Art. 21 / 1,2 is prohibited. The church emphasises that in this case the destruction of the temple was done secretly, without official notification of its leadership.

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