Albanians assert claim to Mother Teresa
Incensed by plans to cast Mother Teresa as a "daughter" of neighbouring Macedonia, Albanian intellectuals wrote to the city's mayor on Friday to stop a controversial inscription from being carved on a stone monument.
In a letter sent to Rome mayor Walter Veltroni, Albanian writers and politicians accused Balkan neighbour Macedonia of using Mother Teresa's geographical birthplace "to usurp the figure and deeds of Mother Teresa".
"Macedonia honours her daughter Gonxhe Bojaxhiu-Mother Teresa, Skopje 1910-Calcutta 1997," was the inscription planned for a monument in central Rome.
Mother Teresa was born in 1910 to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, the capital of what is now called Macedonia, but what was then a part of the Ottoman Empire. She died in 1997 in Calcutta at the age of 87, a universal symbol of compassion and a 1979 Nobel Prize winner for her work with the poor in India.
The ongoing fight over her national identity is a reminder of the enmity between a minority population of ethnic Albanians and their fellow Macedonian citizens.
Just a few years ago Albanian guerrillas, angered by the treatment of their ethnic kin at the hands of the Macedonian government, led an insurgency which threatened the stability of the Balkan nation that emerged from the former Yugoslavia.
Ethnic Albanians are now part of the government and uphold the values of coexistence with the Macedonians.
The monument, initially intended to honour Mother Teresa's 90th anniversary in 2000, is planned to be erected close to the Rome headquarters of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity.
It is expected that the Vatican will beatify Mother Teresa on 19 OCtober.
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