Exploring Contemporary Shi’ism in European and Middle Eastern Contexts (Panel III-I)

Dr. Diego Pagliarulo – Institute of Political Studies “S. Pio V” Observatory on the Mediterranean – OSMED, Panel Moderator and Conclusion Institutional Greeting -Prof. Andrea Carteny, Director of CEMAS Research Center, Sapienza University of Rome

Dr. Minoo Mirshahvalad – University of Turin

Creating the Shi’i Sacred Space in Italy

Shi’i gathering places in Italy is to demonstrate how Twelvers create sacred space in a country where they cannot have mosques. A by-product of the Italian model of secularism is that Islamic communities are not considered religious entities and hence are not allowed to build mosque. The absence of mosques has generated two main changes in the sense of the sacred space. First, the creation of the space of gathering does not maintain the standards established by senior Shi’a authorities based in Iran and Iraq, but has developed its own mechanism. Second, online communities have emerged to compensate for the absence of mosque. Therefore, in this peninsula we witness a significant change in the form of the Shi’a religious gathering places comparing to what we see in the Shi’a heartlands. Dr. Mirshahvalad will demonstrate how the Shi’i places of gathering in diaspora have become unprecedented sacred entities that do not correspond to any of the conventional categories of the Shi’i sacred places such as mausoleum, mosque and husseiniya, yet are endowed with a certain sacredness.