Managing religious mega-event in a mundane urban community: the case of Muslim Eid al-fitr in Huxi Mosque, Shanghai

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Accompanying Shanghai's opening-up and rising-up as a global city, both internal and international Muslim immigrants are rapidly increasing. With a large proportion of the irreligious population, the Chinese government's attitude to religion is neutral. As religious mega-events would require extended open space, the Muslim immigrants have to occupy some public spaces around the mosque to hold religious events, confronting the everyday life of the local residents in the surrounding community. Taking the Eid al-Fitr 2017 in Shanghai Huxi Mosque as an example, we investigated the religious mega-event when it took up the whole streets for a whole day, and interviewed 56 Muslims, 89 locals, and 9 administrators. The results show that the rigid top-down government-enforced management model cannot resolve contradictions between the two groups because different social groups (the muslims and the local residents) have completely different spatial demands. Based on the interview with key informants and survey, preliminary findings suggest that a bottom-up model, for example, a street-based community comprised by residents, Muslims and neighborhood committees, may work better to manage this religious mega-event in a self-organized fashion. First, more channels should be created to express the Muslims' opinions regarding the planning and formulation of both mega-events and daily life. Second, a harmonious cultural atmosphere could be created for the Muslims group by organizing some unique local activities and cultural festivals or temporary markets to enhance mutual understanding between local residents and Muslims. Finally, establishing Muslim cultural community may play an important role in strengthening the understanding of religious culture to the surrounding communities and mitigate the misunderstanding and alienation between locals and Muslims. These findings will generate implications for policy-makers to manage religious mega-events more effectively in a mundane urban community in Shanghai, and other global cities with diverse ethnic groups.
religious mega-event, community, social group, self-organization