leicester hindu muslim uk

Two arrested during latest disturbance in east of city after cricket match last month between India and Pakistan
Police and community leaders have called for calm after scuffles between large crowds led to arrests after "serious disorder" in Leicester over the weekend.

Two arrests were made and a large number of people were searched under section 60 stop-and-search powers, police said.

The disorder was the latest in a series of disturbances in the east of the city that have taken place after a cricket match between India and Pakistan on 28 August.

In Green Lane Road, where there are several Muslim-owned businesses and a Hindu temple close by, a group of Hindu men were filmed marching through the area on Saturday.


Rukhsana Hussain, 42, a community leader, described hearing loud chants of "Jai Shri Ram", which translates from Hindi as "hail Lord Ram" or "victory to Lord Ram", from several streets away.

This traditional Hindu greeting or chant has increasingly been appropriated by perpetrators of anti-Muslim violence in India, whose prime minister, Narendra Modi, is under growing scrutiny for the treatment of minorities, including Muslims.

Majid Freeman, 34, a community activist, filmed much of the disturbances in Belgrave Road on Saturday evening.

In one video Freeman shot circulating on Twitter, the smashing of glass bottles can be heard, and police shout at Freeman to move away.

"They were throwing bottles and all sorts," Freeman said. "They were coming past our mosques, taunting the community and physically beating people up randomly," he said.

A gathering of young Muslims in the city was in response to the impromptu march, Freeman added. "That's when the Muslim community came out and said: 'We can't trust the police, we're going to defend our community ourselves.'"
Muslim hindu uk clashes
© Andrew Fox/The Guardian
Police hold back Muslim protesters from marching along Belgrave Road in Leicester to avoid clashes with the Hindu community.
In Leicester's Hindu community too, there is uncertainty. Drishti Mae, 31, a lifelong Leicester resident who used to chair a national Hindu organisation, said the recent unrest was unprecedented in the more than three decades she had lived in the city.

"It's the Hindu community that's being targeted, a first-generation migrant community," Mae said, claiming Hindu families were being harassed by some Muslims in the city.

"They feel threatened, and attacked," she added, saying the police were failing to protect property, people and places of worship. "We do have a right to protect ourselves," she said.

On Saturday evening Leicestershire police posted a video message on social media from Rob Nixon, the force's temporary chief constable. He said there had been numerous reports of an outbreak of disorder in east Leicester and that officers were taking control of the situation.

A police update early on Sunday said large crowds had formed "after groups of young men began an unplanned protest".

It continued: "Several incidents of violence and damage have been reported to the police and are being investigated. We are aware of a video circulating showing a man pulling down a flag outside a religious building on Melton Road, Leicester.

"This appears to have taken place while police officers were dealing with public disorder in the area. The incident will be investigated."

One man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit violent disorder and one man on suspicion of possession of a bladed article. Both remained in police custody on Sunday.

The police said: "We are continuing to call for dialogue and calm with support from local community leaders. We will not tolerate violence or disorder in our city.

"A significant police operation will remain in the area in the coming days."

Suleman Nagdi, of the Leicester-based Federation of Muslim Organisations, told the BBC: "What we have seen on the streets is very alarming.

"There have been problems in the community since the India and Pakistan cricket match, and while that game often sparks gatherings, they have not in the past turned this ugly.

"We need calm - the disorder has to stop and it has to stop now. There are some very dissatisfied young men who have been causing havoc."

Those sentiments were echoed by the Leicester East MP, Claudia Webbe, who wrote on Twitter on Saturday night: "Dear Leicester, this is a time for cool heads.

"I implore everyone to go home. We can strengthen our dialogue to repair community relations. Your family will be worried for your safety, please accept the advice of the police who are trying to defuse and are calling for calm."

In a statement, leaders of the Hindu and Jain temples, and community organisations in Leicester, said they were working with the police to get to the bottom of Saturday's impromptu march.

"We condemn the insensitive and utterly disgraceful acts on the streets of Belgrave and North Evington," the statement said.

"Leaders of the Hindu community are not going to tolerate such acts of aggression that undermines the relationships and unity within this city of Leicester."