Clashes broke out between Hindu-Muslim communities in Leicester, UK on Sunday. According to the latest reports on social media, the trigger was the protest march on Saturday afternoon.
Several videos have surfaced online of people from both sides throwing glass bottles and other things at each other as police try to control the riotous crowd. Some people are even seen carrying sticks and batons. Local police are calling it a continuation of the clashes that followed the India-Pakistan cricket match earlier this month.
“I’ve seen a huge selection of things from social media that are now very, very distorting, and some of it just lying about what had been going on between different communities,” Sir Peter Soulsby told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.
“There is no obvious local cause for this at all,” Soulsby said, pointing to a distortion of the facts on social media and a concerted effort to lure people from as far away as Birmingham to heighten tensions in “a city so others very peaceful”.
Celebrations after the cricket match in August became messy, a police spokesman said. “An incident was shared on social media indicating that a Muslim was being attacked by Hindus. This was wrong: the victim was in fact Sikh and supported the same team as the people who assaulted him,” the spokesperson said.
What’s going on in Leicester?
On Sunday, Leicester Police wrote on Twitter, “Parts of East Leicester experienced serious disorder yesterday evening (Saturday, 17 September) into this morning (Sunday) when large crowds formed after groups of young men began an unplanned protest.”
The Guardian report quoted Freeman as saying that the mob was “walking through our mosques, making fun of the community and physically beating people at random”, in response to which “the Muslim community came out and said, ‘We can’t trust in the police, we are ‘going to defend our community ourselves’”.
The same report quoted Drishti Mae, 31, “a lifelong resident of Leicester who used to chair a national Hindu organisation”, as saying that she had never seen such a riot in the city.
“It is the Hindu community that is being attacked, a first-generation immigrant community… They feel threatened and attacked,” she told The Guardian. She alleged police were failing to protect property, people and places of worship, according to the report, saying, “We have a right to protect ourselves.”
The Hindu community says he has been the victim of a hate crime. A video posted on September 18 shows a temple being vandalized. According to Rashmi Sawant, a Hindu human rights activist, cars and other community property were also destroyed.
Drishti Mae, 31, a lifelong Leicester resident who used to chair a national Hindu organization, told The Guardian: “It is the Hindu community that is under attack, a first-generation immigrant community.” She said that Hindu families were being harassed by some Muslims in the city.
On September 17, a group of men was filmed marching through the Green Lane Road area of the city, where there are several Muslim-owned businesses and a Hindu temple, according to a report by The Guardian.
A member of the Muslim community says that the young men in the community went out to defend themselves because the police did not protect them from the constant attacks by Hindu men that began on Saturday after the unplanned protest.
India – Pakistan match the ‘trigger’
The violence started on August 28 after India won the match against Pakistan in the 2022 Asian Cup, after which a fight broke out in Melton Road, Belgrave, leading to 27 arrests so far, according to a media publication with UK-based Leicester Mercury.
The police, while asking for calm, told everyone to return to their homes and asked to share the information that has been verified and is true.
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