The Fragile Space: Striking a Balance Between Visibility and Persistence in a Local Shia Mosque

Location of the Mosque in Bochum © Zahra Naghshband.

The representatives of Shia congregations1 convened in Bochum in April 2022 to sign a statement reacting to the German government’s banning and confiscation of two Shia mosques.2 The signatories including 58 Shia associations from different cities in Germany, stated that this move was unprecedented in Germany since World War II and aimed at criminalizing the Shia Religious Authority Institution (Marja’iyya). This statement highlighted the challenges faced by the local Shia communities in claiming a space for religious activities in Germany. The strained relationship between the German government and Shia centers is best exemplified when looking at the Imam Ali Mosque in Hamburg,3 which has been in a precarious state since 2016 due to being accused of having alleged ties to the Iranian government, the antisemitic rhetoric,4 and serving as a gathering place for Hezbollah sympathizers.5  These controversies led to the mosque’s temporary closure in 2017, the expulsion of its deputy chief, and continued monitoring by German authorities.However, the Shia community in Germany is much more diverse than this one-dimensional and homogeneous portrayal, encompassing a wide range of ethnicities, cultures, and religious beliefs and it seems that these tensions cast a shadow over the Shia local spaces across Germany.

Regarding this problematic portrayal of the Shia community in Germany, I embarked upon a fieldwork inquiry into Shia Mosque situated in Bochum. Although its modest exterior may suggest otherwise, this particular site holds significant importance for the Shia community residing in the city and state of North Rhine Westphalia. „The Fragile Space: Striking a Balance Between Visibility and Persistence in a Local Shia Mosque“ weiterlesen

  1. The Islamische Gemeinschaft der schiitischen Gemeinden in Germany was established in Berlin in 2009 with the aim of connecting Shiite communities throughout Germany and declaring representation of the interests of Shiites in Germany. []
  2. For full text of the statement see []
  3. It is also called “Blaue Moschee” and supports Islamische Zentrum Hamburg (IZH) which represents the center of Shia Islam in Germany. []
  4. For further information regarding these accusations refer to the following report: []
  5. For further information regarding the controversy about the Shia Mosque in Hamburg look at this post: []
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