Leaders of the Hindu and Muslim communities in Leicester have called for an immediate end to the “provocation and violence” in the wake of clashes in the eastern England city.
47 people have been arrested so far after the violent clashes in the city following an India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match played in Dubai on August 28.
What exactly happened: After some videos of clashes between Hindus and and Muslim after the India-Pakistan match went viral on social media, fresh violence was triggered in the city after reports emerged that a Hindu temple was vandalised by unidentified men clothed in black.
Footage shared by both Hindus and Muslims on social media showed masked men banging on people's windows in Hindu-majority areas and pulling down religious decorations, and others marching down predominantly Muslim-populated streets, chanting: "Jai Shri Ram", reported the BBC.
There were videos circulating online showing a man pulling down a flag outside a Hindu temple and another video of a flag being burned. Dharmesh Lakhani, who represents and works with Hindu temples across Leicester, confirmed to The Guardian that one flag outside the Shivalaya temple in Belgrave Road was removed while the other was burned.
Misinformation and fake news: Diaspora group Insight UK has claimed that much of the violence was the result of "misinformation" and fake news circulating on social media, reported PTI.
“I’ve seen quite a selection of the social media stuff which is very distorting now and some of it just completely lying about what had been happening between different communities” Leicester city mayor Peter Soulsby told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Statement from police: Leicestershire Police has said that so far 47 people have been arrested for violence and disruption in the city. Police said a 20-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon during clashes.
"We will not stand for this unrest in our city. There is an extensive policing operation ongoing, acting on information and reports of gatherings and offering community reassurance. Be reassured: we are working to keep you safe and to arrest and bring to justice those that are causing harm in our communities," said Rob Nixon, Temporary Chief Constable at Leicestershire Police.
People are scared: Leicester is a scary place to be in at the moment, Dishita Solanki, an eyewitness to the attack on a Hindu temple in the UK city, told India Today TV. "There are other cities that are being targeted, like Nottingham and Birmingham. I have relatives staying in a lot of cities," she said.
Hindu temple targeted in UK— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) September 19, 2022
EXCLUSIVE | Hindu community at large is scared but that would be an understatement. It is a scary place to be at the moment. Media reporting in UK has been anti-Hindu: #DishitaSolanki, Eyewitness#IndiaFirst @gauravcsawant pic.twitter.com/r1ySNJDmaN
Yasmin Surti, from the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicester (FMO), told BBC that part of the problem is the idea community leaders have significant influence is "ancient". "We need to have dialogue and clearly we need to reflect on how we reach these young people who may not be in touch with the elders in mosques and temples," she said.
.@SulemanNagdi Spokesperson, Federation of Muslim organisations (Leicestershire) on the tension between two communities in #Leicester and the way forward. #ReporterDiary (@loveenatandon) pic.twitter.com/6jEW1kRxRf— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) September 22, 2022
Religious leaders show united front: Religious leaders in Leicester have appealed for peace and harmony. On Tuesday, the leaders said that they are one family. "We, the family of Leicester, stand in front of you not only as Hindus and Muslims but as brothers and sisters," they said in a statement.
"We are a strong family. We will work together to resolve all the issues. Leicester has no place for foreign extremist ideology that causes division," the leaders said.
Joint statement on Hindu, Muslim tensions in Leicester: (20/9/22)— Media Cultured CIC (@MediaCulturedUK) September 20, 2022
“We are from One family,
We fought the racists together,
We built it up together.
The recent violence is not who we are as a city.” pic.twitter.com/V5tJxSfK4W
Indian High Commission condemns the violence: The Indian High Commission in the country in its statement on Monday said: "We strongly condemn the violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion.
"We have strongly taken up this matter with the UK authorities and have sought immediate action against those involved in these attacks. We call on the authorities to provide protection to the affected people," the statement said.