Leicester’s tension is exposed by Hindu and Muslim mob clashes

Leicester’s tension is exposed by Hindu and Muslim mob clashes


Prior to a few weeks ago, Leicester was regarded as one of the most successful varied communities in the United Kingdom, a shining example of multiculturalism.

A group of masked men march through Leicester on Sunday with one seen armed with a 2x4 foot piece of wood amid violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims

A group of masked men march through Leicester on Sunday with one seen armed with a 2x4 foot piece of wood amid violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims

Since the early 1960s, when new newcomers from India and Pakistan first began to arrive, people of all religions, whether Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or Christian, have lived peacefully as neighbors, with tolerance and understanding, in the eleventh largest city in England.

In recent days, however, disturbing images of sectarian violence and masked hate mobs on the streets, along with regular skirmishes between angry young men, have exposed the simmering tensions between the city’s various ethnicities.

This weekend’s riots, which resulted in the injuries of 25 police officers and the arrests of 47 individuals, were blamed on a cricket match between India and Pakistan.

Under the surface, however, it is evident that Leicester, with its competing religious views, high unemployment, poor wages, and large families living in Victorian terraced houses, is a potential flashpoint. And there are legitimate concerns that the problems could spread to further cities.

Two nights ago, a mob of 200 Muslim men demonstrated outside a Birmingham temple in response to a planned speech by a Hindu extremist woman with ties to India.

After the recent violence in Leicester, MailOnline dispatched correspondent Nick Fagge to a city at war:

“Whatever this is about, it has nothing to do with cricket,” says barber Muhammad Sandhi outside his business on Green Lane Road in Leicester. ‘I am Indian and I am a Muslim.’

Until a few weeks ago Leicester was held up as one of our most successful diverse communities, a shining example of multicultural Britain. Pictured: Belgrave in Leicester yesterday where a mural is painted on the side of a furniture shop

Until a few weeks ago Leicester was held up as one of our most successful diverse communities, a shining example of multicultural Britain. Pictured: Belgrave in Leicester yesterday where a mural is painted on the side of a furniture shop

Muhammad, a 26-year-old native of Gujarat, India, relocated to the East Midlands 16 years ago and has never witnessed anything comparable to the violence that has shook his family in recent weeks.

In Leicester, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs all are permitted to celebrate their faiths. However, we should not be permitted to force our religions upon others. We must be able to coexist and respect one another.

This affects the reputation of Leicester and this neighborhood in particular. No longer does anyone come here in the evening. We must close the barbershop earlier than usual.

England's 11th largest city, where some 70 languages were spoken and people of all faiths, be they Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian, had lived peacefully as neighbours

England's 11th largest city, where some 70 languages were spoken and people of all faiths, be they Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian, had lived peacefully as neighbours

Bansari Shukla, a mother of two, says that people who had lived peacefully in the multicultural melting pot for decades are now on edge. Spices waft through the mechanic’s garage and through the saree shop in this section of Green Lane.

In the midst of violent skirmishes between Hindus and Muslims, a group of masked men march through Leicester on Sunday, with one seen carrying a 2-by-4-foot board.

Prior to a few weeks ago, Leicester was regarded as one of the most successful varied communities in the United Kingdom, a shining example of multiculturalism. Yesterday, in Belgrave, Leicester, a mural was painted on the side of a furniture store.

The eleventh largest city in England, where over 70 languages were spoken and people of all religions, including Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians, have lived in harmony with one another.

On Saturday and Sunday evenings, Leicestershire Police patrolled groups of individuals congregating in city neighborhoods.

On Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of people gathered in eastern portions of Leicester during major marches, yet there were very few police officers there to regulate the situation, as evidenced by video footage.

Leicestershire Police’s acting chief constable, Rob Nixon, stated that officers previously stationed in the capital had been redeployed to the city in the East Midlands to assist with any potential additional unrest (police pictured at the unplanned march on Green Lane Road on Sunday)

Bansari, age 40, stated, “I don’t know what this is about, but it’s quite frightening.” Even my children are currently terrified. They have diverse pals at school, including Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, English, and Poles.

People like Bansari hid in their houses over the weekend as gangs of young male Muslims and Hindus raged in the city’s east, with police arresting individuals for crimes such as threatening to kill, possession of a firearm, and affray.

After India defeated Pakistan in an Asia Cup cricket match on August 28 in Dubai, the widespread disruption involving predominantly young males from Hindu and Muslim populations is viewed as a “country-based quarrel.”

Large numbers of young guys dressed in Indian flags came to celebrate on Melton Road in Leicester after the game. There is video evidence of Indian fans chanting “Pakistan Murdabad,” a cry from the partition era that means “death to Pakistan.”

On Saturday, a group of young Hindu men were captured marching through Green Lane Road, which is home to businesses owned by Muslims.

Temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon for Leicestershire Police has said that police previously deployed to the capital have been sent back to the east Midlands city to help any potential further unrest (police pictured at the unplanned march on Green Lane Road on Sunday)

Temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon for Leicestershire Police has said that police previously deployed to the capital have been sent back to the east Midlands city to help any potential further unrest (police pictured at the unplanned march on Green Lane Road on Sunday)

Yesterday, members of the public were photographed in front of Aaliya’s Collection and Beauty on Green Lane Road in Leicester.

“Whatever this is about, it has nothing to do with cricket,” says barber Muhammad Sandhi outside his business on Green Lane Road in Leicester. ‘I am Indian and I am a Muslim.’ Left: the Ashraf Haircut barbershop on Leicester’s Green Lane Road. Right: Citizens in front of the Sikh Community Centre on Leicester Street

Bansari Shukla, a mother of two, asserts that individuals who have lived peacefully in a multicultural melting pot for decades are now on edge. Pictured: An individual in front of the Saree Mandir store on Belgrave in Leicester

An emergency worker was assaulted during that night’s outbreak of widespread violence, which was presumably fueled by misinformation on social media.

During the following weeks, there were bogus claims of an attempted kidnapping of a young girl, unsubstantiated accusations of attacks on mosques, and false claims that a Muslim man had been attacked at a cricket match, all of which contributed to the rising animosity.

On Saturday a group of young Hindu men were filmed marching through Green Lane Road, home to a number of Muslim-owned businesses

On Saturday a group of young Hindu men were filmed marching through Green Lane Road, home to a number of Muslim-owned businesses

According to the police, rival gangs of adolescents from other cities and towns, including Birmingham and Luton, converged on Leicester last weekend, with some of them encouraged by an online campaign headed “We’re going to land in Leicester.”

Religious leaders have warned that clashes similar to those in Leicester threaten to spread across the nation.

The situation is so grave that both the Indian and Pakistani high commissions have issued statements condemning the violence against the Hindu and Muslim populations and urging the British government to take action.

Yesterday, a photograph of the Jame Masjid mosque in Spinney Hill, Leicester

Yesterday, members of the public stood outside of St. Stephen’s Anglican church at Green Lane Road.

How do the RSS and BJP relate to the upheaval in the United Kingdom?

Sadhvi Ritambhara, a radical Hindu nationalist, was scheduled to speak at the Durga Bhawan Mandir.

Throughout the conflict between Muslims and Hindus in the United Kingdom, the RSS and BJP have been mentioned.

RSS refers to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an all-male Hindu nationalist volunteer organization that is frequently referred to as a paramilitary organization.

It is reported that the right-volunteer organization created in the 1920s has as many as six million members.

The organization was founded to promote the idea of Hindu nationalism, the most prevalent form of which is Hindutva, and it continues to propagate this philosophy among its followers to this day.

Although this organization has been known to establish schools, charities, and clubs, it has also been linked to communal violence and has been outlawed three times since its inception.

The BJP was derived from the RSS.

The BJP refers to the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling political party in India, which has been accused of implementing divisive legislation and pursuing a divisive religious agenda.

Sadhvi Ritambhara rose to fame in the 1990s and is currently the head of the RSS’s women’s branch, with ties to the BJP.

Some communities fear Hindu nationalism is gaining a foothold in the United Kingdom.

Before the tour was canceled, Ritambhara was scheduled to speak at temples in Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham, and London.

The Birmingham temple where a protest occurred on September 20 denied having any ties to the BJP or RSS and maintained that Ritambhara had spoken at the temple without issue before to the planned event and was well-known for her philanthropic efforts in India.

On Saturday, a group of young Hindu men were captured marching up Green Lane Road, which is home to a number of shops owned by Muslims. Some were captured on camera chanting “Jai Shri Ram,” which translates to “Victory to Lord Rama,” a cry increasingly utilized by Hindu nationalists in India as a symbol of their religious commitment.

In retribution, Muslim men gathered in large numbers, videos of the groups throwing bottles at one other were posted online, and the saffron flag on a Hindu temple was vandalized.

Police investigating recent incidents in the eastern portion of the city have made 45 arrests for crimes such as threatening to kill, possession of a firearm, and affray.

What has caused the disturbance, and may it be duplicated elsewhere? Until recently, Leicester has been seen as a model of multiculturalism in the United Kingdom, with 14 faiths represented.

Some areas of Leicester may be largely not multicultural and integrated, despite the fact that many residents of the city are multicultural and integrated.

In these locations, individuals live in communities concentrated inside the same postcodes, where everyone has the same background and some do not speak English. Hundreds rarely interact with others who do not share their beliefs and background.

This has fostered hatred among persons of Hindu and Muslim, Indian and Pakistani descent.

And recent events, exacerbated by fabricated and exaggerated social media posts, have exacerbated these preexisting tensions.

The role played by extremist groups on both sides, as well as the repercussions of Narendra Modi’s rising marginalization of India’s 200 million Muslims, cannot be overlooked.

Recent conflicts have taken place in a region where Muslim and Hindu groups have historically lived in close proximity and relative peace.

Green Lane Road, surrounded by sweatshop textile companies and light engineering manufacturers, is less glamorous than the more famous ‘Golden Mile’

It is an industrial district. Close by is the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal. An industrial chimney made of brick soars above.

However, it had previously been seen as a region where people of diverse faiths coexisted together.

In one block, Hindu symbols cover one door, a Koranic prayer adorns the next, and the Sikh Gurdwara is located across the street.

Soand Singh, a 40-year-old Sikh butcher, told MailOnline, “People from India and Pakistan have lived in Leicester in peace for generations.” We are Sikhs, and we have no issues with anyone. However, this is terrifying. And it’s detrimental to business.

This has no relevance to cricket.

On one side, ‘Hindutva’ or ultra-nationalist Hindu organisations and on the other, radical Islamist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir preach the beliefs underlying this formerly cold conflict.

In essence, it seeks to build a religiously-based state in which adherents of other religions would be treated as second-class citizens.

In 2021, with a 6.8% unemployment rate compared to the national rate of 4.1%, Leicester has shown to be a fertile breeding ground for those who desire to foster politics of division and hatred.

And many other problems in the city stay hidden, such as the horrible sweatshops of the apparel industry that persisted for years before a 2020 newspaper exposé brought them to light.

According to some sources, the exploitation of workers continued in a number of factories, with workers being paid less than the minimum wage and officials turning a blind eye out of fear of being accused of racism.

According to a new analysis by the Leicester Garment and Textile Workers Trust, sweatshops are still thriving two years later, with employees subjected to physical violence, refused maternity leave, and paid barely £3 per hour. More over half of the examined workers stated they were paid less than the minimum wage.

Leicester also earned the terrible distinction of being Britain’s first ‘shut down’ city during the pandemic, with sky-high Covid rates attributed to chronic overcrowding in Victorian terraced houses where the majority of the Asian population resides.

Although individuals of different ethnic communities may share the same postcode, real contact between them can be uncommon, particularly if they do not speak the same language.

Certainly, hostilities between Muslims and Hindus on the Indian subcontinent date back to the 7th and 8th centuries, when Islam was introduced to the region. Some estimates place the death toll as high as two million as a result of the horrific bloodshed that erupted during the partition of India and the establishment of Pakistan in 1947. Three wars fought between India and Pakistan in 1947, 1965, and 1971 over conflicting territorial claims in Kashmir have left a legacy of mistrust and suspicion in their ties.

Consequently, it is not surprising that such animosity can periodically spread to cities in the United Kingdom where Muslims and Hindus have relatively coexisted happily for decades.

“The threat posed by the rise of Hindu nationalism in India cannot be disregarded overseas, since it has ramifications in Western nations as well.” Former Hindustan Times columnist Sunny Hindal stated in 2019 that BJP activists in Britain were inciting hatred against Muslims and pressuring British Hindus to support the Conservative Party. Members of the public photographed in front of the Leicester Conservative Party office in Belgrave

Yesterday, two members of the public were injured at Leicester’s Spinney Hills Park.

A mural painted on the façade of a Belgravia restaurant

On Sunday, several individuals were arrested after a police operation in east Leicester “to prevent further disruption.”

Protests are sparked by Sadhvi Ritambhara’s planned speech in Birmingham.

By KATIE FEEHAN AND ROSS SLATER FOR MAILONLINE

Instigating yesterday night’s brawl by 200 young Muslim men outside a Hindu temple in Birmingham was the temple’s intention to welcome a controversial speaker with ties to Hindu extremists.

Hardline Sadhvi Ritambhara was scheduled to speak at the Durga Bhawan Mandir to kick off a five-venue tour of the United Kingdom.

However, her tour, which was intended to include more speeches in Nottingham, Coventry, and London, was canceled over the weekend, with her supporters citing “poor health” and her opponents saying that her British Hindu hosts withdrew their invitations.

To the contrary, up to 200 protestors descended on the temple on Spon Lane, Smethwick, to warn of trouble if other Hindu extremist speakers were invited to speak in the United Kingdom.

One protester wearing a mask stated, “This is a message from Birmingham to the BJP and RSS Hindutva supporters: you are not welcome in Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, or anyplace else in the United Kingdom.”

Police with riot helmets and shields were observed confronting the gathering, believed to be primarily Muslim men, and attempting to move them away from the temple as demonstrators scaled the surrounding perimeter fence.

The police were pelted with bottles and fireworks and were eventually forced to close the surrounding road in order to move the protesters across the street.

It follows days of turmoil between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester, where 47 people were arrested amid violent fights over the weekend, which community leaders claim were fueled by online misinformation and outsiders traveling to the city from places such as Birmingham to stoke sectarian tensions.

According to some commentators, external pressures also had a significant role in the Leicester case.

Dharmesh Lakhani, who has lived in the city for over 50 years and works with local mosques, attributed the situation’s escalation to external factors.

He stated on BBC R4’s Today: ‘It’s been brewing slowly, slowly, slowly, and the cricket incident worked as a catalyst.

“Now, in my opinion, if it were only people from Leicester, things would have settled down.” I sense that there are extraneous influences there, and they are not wanted. We only need the citizens of Leicester, the Hindu organizations, the Muslim organizations, our authorities, the police, and our city council to immediately resolve this issue.

Sunny Hindal, a former columnist for the Hindustan Times, concurs. In this week’s New Statesman, he says, ‘This is another example of how rising Hindu nationalism in India, which has regularly targeted religious minorities such as Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs, is exporting problems abroad.

‘India’s ruling party, the BJP, is committed to its founding fathers’ concept of constructing a nation for “Hindus first” and has exploited religion to attack minorities and critics.

“The threat posed by the rise of Hindu nationalism in India cannot be disregarded overseas, since it has ramifications in Western nations as well.” I wrote in 2019 that BJP activists in Britain were stoking anti-Muslim animus and pressuring Hindus to support the Conservative Party. What occurred in Leicester was not unilateral. Some Muslims posted bigoted comments on social media and desecrated Hindu holy icons. This is more of a story about how social media and misinformation can fast escalate political rivalry into interfaith strife.

The majority of those roving gangs in Leicester were thought to be outsiders seeking trouble and attention. Both Hindu and Muslim parties have attempted to gain support by capitalizing on these tensions.

But he also accused Leicestershire Police of being ‘flat-footed’ and missing the warning signals, adding, ‘Police agencies also need stronger action plans to understand and defuse such tensions, which is why local community participation is so important. I suspect that the Queen’s burial contributed to the police in Leicester being caught off guard.

According to the authorities, agitators from both sides are entering the city from outside to conduct acts of violence. Perhaps they had in mind 6ft 7in British-Egyptian YouTuber “Mohamed Hijab,” who describes himself to his 700,000 fans as a “author and academic.”

In his most recent video from Leicester, he tells a mob of Muslim males, “If they [Hindus] believe in reincarnation, what a disgrace it would be for them to be reborn as such pitiful, weak, timid people.” I would rather be reborn as a grasshopper, brother! Tuesday’s events in Birmingham, a city barely 38 miles away, indicate that the fears of Hindu-Muslim violence spreading abroad are justified.

Hardline Tuesday’s planned presence of Hindu nationalist Sadhvi Ritambhara at a Hindu temple in Birmingham caused a disturbance involving 200 young Muslim males.

Ms. Ritambhara’s plans for a five-city tour of the United Kingdom, including Nottingham, Coventry, and Ilford, east London, were canceled, ostensibly owing to ‘poor health,’ but her opponents said her British Hindu hosts had withdrew the invitations.

Sam Tarry, Labour MP for Ilford South, petitioned the Home Office to intercede and halt her tour after learning about her visit.

The police shut down the road and transferred the demonstrators to the opposite side, away from the temple where stones were thrown.

As an expression of solidarity, representatives of many faiths were pictured outside the temple during last night’s demonstration.

In a letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, he said, ‘As you are aware, Sadhvi Rithambara is a divisive personality notorious for her xenophobic remarks and language, especially towards the Muslim population in India.

She was previously arrested for instigating communal violence following the destruction of the Babri Masjid, which resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 people.

“My constituents and I believe that her Islamophobic rhetoric has no place in Ilford’s cosmopolitan and diverse community, and I am genuinely concerned about the possible escalation of communal tensions if her visit is permitted to proceed.”

This month, the nonprofit Hindus for Human Rights also protested against her arrival and campaigned against her speaking tour of America.

The police will undoubtedly monitor social media for signs of impending conflict, but they may also keep an eye on the calendar.

India and Pakistan are slated to play another cricket match on October 23, this time in the T20 World Cup in Melbourne, and on the eve of the Hindu holiday of Diwali.

How migration has altered the landscape of Leicester

Migration primarily from the subcontinent radically altered the demographic composition of Leicester.

In a survey of the city conducted by the University of Manchester between 1991 and 2011, the percentage of ‘white British’ or ‘white other’ citizens fell from 70% to 50%, while the number of individuals of Indian descent increased from 23% to 28%.

Other ethnicities, including those of Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent, also increased from 7% to 21% of the population.

Two years ago, Population UK issued a research estimating that the city’s population will exceed 451,000 by this July.

This report found that Muslims make up 18.6% of the population, while Hindus account for 15.2%. Other religious groups include Sikhs (4.4%), Buddhists (0.4%), and Jews (0.1%).

It was discovered that English is the most popular language, followed by Gujarati, Punjabi, Polish, Urdu, Somali, Arabic, and Bengali.

The 2011 Census question on religion in Leicester yielded the following results: Christian 32.4%, Muslim 18.63%, Hindu 15.19%, Sikh 4.38%, Buddhist 0.37%, Jewish 0.09%, and ‘not specified’ or ‘no religion’ 28.38%.


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