ALBANIA’S religious minorities are struggling to find a way to express their anger over Al Jazeera English’s coverage of their country’s recent crackdown on an ethnic Albanian minority.
The country’s government says the move was needed to stop ethnic Albanians from taking advantage of the country’s fragile financial situation.
But Al Jazeera’s investigative unit found that it had been used by government forces as a cover for a crackdown that has killed at least 880 people and displaced more than 300,000 since the summer of 2015.
Al Jazeera’s Peter Bouckaert, reporting from Albania, says the government’s denial of the attacks is not enough to convince some Al Jazeera journalists.
“They are saying, ‘We have to do this because Al Jazeera is going to cover the Albanian issue, we have to defend the rights of the Albanians,'” Bouckat says.
The Albanian government has denied any wrongdoing and has accused Al Jazeera of trying to destabilise it.
The news agency denies this.
Albanian government spokesman Siphan Aliyev says the attacks were carried out by members of the “Albania Terrorist Group”, a group of mostly Muslim Albanians, including members of a terrorist organisation known as the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The group has been accused of committing atrocities and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations.
Aliyev denies this and says the Al Jazeera team has been attacked in a number of countries.
Alik Siphemeh, a member of the Kosovo Albanian community in Albania, said the Aliya news agency’s coverage is “a disgrace”.
“The Albanians have been living in fear for years, and now it is being used as a political tool,” he said.
Aliya has faced criticism in the United States, where the channel has been critical of President Donald Trump.
The Al Jazeera story also drew a sharp response from Albania’s foreign minister, Gheorghe Ghebreyesus.
“We are not going to let Al Jazeera be a channel of propaganda,” Ghegreyesusesa said in a statement.
The government has asked Al Jazeera to cease all activities, but it refuses.”