To avoid escalation, police and community leaders in Leicester’s east-end urged calm and restraint between the Hindu and Muslim communities.
Events leading to the clash
A large number of police officers originally assigned to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral have been redeployed to Leicester, following violent clashes between Hindu and Muslim men over the weekend that resulted in the arrest of 15 people, according to Leicester’s interim Chief Constable Rob Nixon.
The weekend riots were the latest in a string of incidents that began after an India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match on August 28th, including communally charged chants, mob clashes involving bottles, and the destruction of a temple flag.
Following the weekend’s upheaval, police and community leaders urged both communities in Leicester’s east end to exercise restraint. To “prevent further disorder,” police had to use their “stop and search” powers early Monday morning.
The residents of Leicester
Hitesh Patel, a Leicester resident for over 40 years, told ThePrint over the phone from England, “There was first an India-Pakistan issue after the cricket match.” It then escalated into a Hindu-Muslim conflict. “It appears that young people from both communities are fighting”.
Prior to this weekend’s escalation and following the cricket match, 27 people were arrested and later released on bail in separate incidents involving Hindu and Muslim groups until September 11th.
Clashes over the weekend
A group of Hindu men led a procession Saturday in east Leicester’s Green Lane Road, according to reports. The street is lined with Muslim-owned businesses and a Hindu temple. According to reports, the group was walking down the street while chanting “Jai Shree Ram.”
Majid Freeman, a Leicester resident, videotaped portions of the Saturday procession and the ensuing scuffle. In one of his recordings, a fight breaks out between two unidentified people, prompting police to intervene.
In another video, the mob throws glass bottles at people and police tell them to “get back.”
On Saturday, the Guardian quoted Freeman as detailing the events. “They [Hindus] were throwing bottles and all sorts.” “They [Hindus] were coming past our mosques, taunting the community and randomly beating people up.” According to Freeman, the Muslim community then organised to “defend themselves” in response to the Hindu community’s march.
Wasiq Wasiq, a PhD student at King’s College London’s Department of War Studies, published a video of unidentified individuals destroying the flags of a Hindu temple.
A blame game appears to have broken out between the two communities. The sequence of events will become clear only after the Leicester Police investigation is completed.
Meanwhile, interim Chief Constable Rob Nixon has appealed for calm in the aftermath of Saturday’s chaos.
Communities are hoping for a quick resolution
Hotel Patel, a Leicester resident, highlighted saying that, “We’ve been living in Leicester for more than 40 years.” It didn’t matter if you were Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh. This is a case of teenagers losing their cool. The neighborhood is in a state of upheaval. Leaders are getting involved, and this issue will be resolved soon,”
Suleman Nagdi of the Federation of Muslim Organizations in Leicester told the BBC, “We need calm — the disorder has to stop and it has to stop now.” There are some disgruntled young men who have been wreaking havoc. We need to get the message out that this has to stop, and we can do so by having parents and grandparents talk to their sons.”
A statement issued by a group of Leicester Hindu and Jain temples condemned the violence and called for immediate peace, stating that those responsible from within the community must be dealt with.
Kapila emphasized that, “The upwardly mobile Hindu diaspora in the United Kingdom and the United States is deeply politicized.” These events may be a natural consequence of their politics in the United Kingdom.” Kapila pointed out that such incidents tarnish India’s global image as a peaceful and inclusive democracy.
Leicester is frequently held up as an ideal cosmopolitan metropolis, and with good cause. Compared to the rest of England, where an estimated 79.8% of the population is White British, only 45.1% of the city’s residents self-identify as such, according to the 2011 Census. As well as being home to a sizable African, Caribbean, and Eastern European community, the city is home to the UK’s largest Asian population.