TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police said Thurday they had arrested a female teacher for making statements supportive of the Islamic State extremist group.
The teacher, whose name was not given, is being questioned at the anti-terror offices in the capital, Tirana, according to a spokesman who declined to be identified as the investigation is ongoing.
The spokesman added that she is facing charges of religious hatred, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
A private television station, TVKlan, broadcast the previous evening footage of the woman telling her young students at a Muslim school in Shkodra, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Tirana that IS “are good people but the state wants to fight them.”
She described the IS as “a Muslim organization protecting Syria’s Muslim population, or that of Palestine, or that of Egypt.”
The station did not identify the person who recorded the footage, and said only that it was recorded “some time ago.”
Albania’s Muslim Community, or KMSH, which is in charge of the school in Shkodra, immediately reacted, saying that “what this teacher has said does not represent the official line of the madrassa as an educative institution of the KMSH and is totally against what our school offers.”
It added that the school’s staff “unanimously distances itself from that teacher” who was temporarily replacing a colleague.
About two-thirds of Albania’s 3 million people are Muslims. Mainstream religious leaders have urged believers not to join rebel groups in Syria and Iraq but scores of Albanians are believed to have done so.
The Interior Ministry claims, however, that no new fighters from Albania have gone during the last year.