Wide distribution for newly-translated magazine

14 March 2003

TIRANA, Albania — The Baha'i community of Albania has recently published "The Baha'is" magazine in the Albanian language and arranged its distribution in 57 commercial bookstores nationwide, as well as in Kosovo and Macedonia.

The colorful introductory publication, which features extensive use of photographs and a news magazine style of writing, has been used by Baha'is worldwide for more than a decade to respond to requests for information about their religion.

It has been published in a variety of languages including English, French, Spanish, Icelandic, and Mandarin.

In Albania there has been a successful program of translating and distributing the Faith's Holy Writings and other literature.

Among other works by Baha'u'llah, the Most Holy Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha'u'llah's Book of Laws), the Hidden Words, Gleanings, and the Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan) are available in Albanian, as are works by 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi.

Publishing the four-color magazine,"The Baha'is", was a challenge because of technical and logistical problems, particularly with respect to computer compatibility.

It also proved difficult to find a suitable publishing house in Albania ready to take on the job because special permits were needed at that time to own a printing press, and also because of quality control issues.

Hans Thimm of the Baha'i National Information Office in Albania said persistent efforts were rewarded and cordial relations were established with a publishing house, which was impressed with the requirements of the Baha'is.

"The printing house has agreed to distribute copies commercially through their 57 client bookstores within Albania and though their distribution centers in Kosovo and Macedonia," Mr. Thimm said.

The Albanian Baha'is were very pleased to have the popular publication in their language, he said.

"This magazine will be very helpful in informing people about the Faith because Albanians like magazines which are informative and full of various topics, and because they are very tolerant towards religions, especially towards those that are logical and have understandable principles."

The community plans to present the magazine to government officials, other prominent national figures and the media, he said.

The Baha'i Faith first came to Albania in 1931 when an Albanian, Refo Capari, adopted it in New York and returned to his country, where he ultimately became an education ministry official. He translated some of the Baha'i Writings into Albanian.

Soon some prominent people adopted the religion, including Xhafer Bej Preza, chief of police in Tirana, in 1935.

During the country's communist years, the Government suppressed all religions, including the Baha'i Faith.

Today there are about 14,000 Baha'is in Albania. There are 19 Local Spiritual Assemblies in 36 districts. The first national governing council, the National Spiritual Assembly, was elected in 1992.