Following the India – Pakistan cricket match during the T20 World Cup on August 28, communal tensions flared up in Leicester in the UK, between members of the Indian-origin Hindu community and the largely Pakistan-origin Muslim community in the city.
These tension reached a boiling point over the weekend, with disorderly conduct occurring on both Saturday and Sunday.
Police said that “disturbances” broke out at an “unplanned protest” on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
On Sunday, during the latest incident, a group of about 100 had gathered in the city. They told local media that they had gathered to protest against the recent disorder.
Although police blocked off the road, some members of the crowd attempted to push past the barricade, and complained that they were being prevented from marching in protest.
A total of 17 people were arrested: 2 on Saturday and 15 more on Sunday.
What is this about?
Details are extremely sketchy about the incident. The British media have barely covered it — unsurprising, given the wall-to-wall coverage of the royal funeral.
However, police too have kept mum on the incident, likely in order to avoid fanning the tensions.
What we do know is that Leicester Police released the following statement: “Officers became aware of groups of young men gathering on Sunday afternoon in the North Evington area of the city. Officers spoke to them and took steps, including putting in place a temporary police cordon, to minimise harm and disturbance to communities.”
Temporary chief constable Rob Nixon called for calm on Saturday night, and a police spokesperson said, “Two arrests were made – one man on suspicion of conspiracy to commit violent disorder and one man on suspicion of possession of a bladed article. They remain in police custody. 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.”
The police did not specify which communities the arrested belonged to, again in an effort to avoid inflaming tensions.
How have people reacted?
Predictably, given the communal nature of the tensions, reactions on social media were sharply polarised. Self-proclaimed liberals blamed the incident on Hindutva ideology, while self-proclaimed conservatives blamed it on Islamist ideology.
I’ve seen the footage from #Leicester where about 200 supporters of Hindutva took out a rally shouting Jai Shri Ram in a Muslim area. Let me just say to all my fellow Indians, Hindutva has deeply broken our country. Please do not export these divisions worldwide.
— Vasundhara Sirnate (@vsirnate) September 18, 2022
Last few days in UK.
– Adio Adeshine exposes himself to kids at queue for Queen’s coffin.
– Muhammad Khan rushes & tries to desecrate Queen’s coffin.
– Mohammed Rahman stabs two police officers in London.
– Violent ethnic battles between Muslims & Hindus in Leicester.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) September 18, 2022
Muslims from ALL backgrounds in #Leicester are united. Whether they be Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, Somali, Arab etc. We’re here united as one. We won’t allow this #Hindutva extremism to spread here. This isn’t India where we’re the minority & they have the state supporting them.
— Majid Freeman (@Majstar7) September 17, 2022
Shocking how Islamist Pakistani goons remove the pious Hindu religious flag from a temple in front of the Police in Leicester, UK. Why is the Govt in UK unable to control religious hatred and arrest Islamist goons responsible for these cowardly attacks?
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) September 18, 2022