TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police said Thursday they had arrested a theology teacher for making statements supportive of the Islamic State extremist group.
Emine Alushi, 39, was arrested and is facing a charge of religious hatred, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, according to a police statement.
Alushi was shown by private television station TVKlan debating with students and making "strong statements in favor of the notorious ISIS organization and the former leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaida, Bin Laden," said the statement from the police anti-terror department.
The previous evening, the TV station broadcast video 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 TV 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.