Leicester Riots: Why Hindus and Muslims clashed in the UK

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The Leicester police in England arrested fifteen people during an operation in the eastern part of the city on Monday amid clashes between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the city.

The police made two arrests after chaos was triggered by what the police called unplanned protests on the night of Saturday, September 17 and the morning of Sunday, September 18.

The city reportedly saw several clashes between the two communities after an India-Pakistan match of the Asia Cup on August 28. The disorder broke out between the Hindu and Muslim communities living in Leicester. The police on Monday said that a temporary police cordon had been put in place to curb tensions and ensure the situation did not further escalate.

Here’s a look at how an India-Pakistan match led to clashes erupting between the two communities.

Several Incidents Of Clashes

The Leicester police had arrested a total of 27 people since the India-Pakistan match in the Asia Cup on August 28 after a series of incidents, on seven dates, the BBC reported. The temporary chief constable of Leicester police Rob Nixon called for peace and said the incidents could have had very serious consequences. The BBC quoted him as saying, “I continue to ask you, our communities, to work with us and each other as we move into the weekend to help us with reducing concerns and tensions and with keeping our community safe.”

What prompted the clashes

India-Pakistan matches tend to trigger rivalries but, the Asia Cup cricket match on August 28 where India won the match by 5 wickets, resulted in clashes between two groups.

According to a Guardian report, a group of Hindu men had marched through Green Lane Road chanting “Jai Shree Ram”. The area has a Hindu temple and several businesses owned by Muslims in the eastern suburb of Leicester.

Eyewitnesses said that the mobs threw bottles and vandalised property. Twitter user “Majid Freeman” put up a video saying, “Hindu mobs on Belgrave Road throwing glass bottles at the Muslims but narrowly missing police officers heads on numerous occasions.

Freeman told The Guardian, “They were coming past our mosques, taunting the community and physically beating people up randomly.” He said that people from the Muslim community gathered only as a response to the situation.

Did social media and fake news play a role?

Drishti Mae, a member of Leicester’s Hindu community blamed the Muslim community, told The Guardian, “It’s the Hindu community that’s being targeted, a first-generation migrant community. They feel threatened, and attacked.”

Other community leaders asked for members to come together and stop the chaos. Suleman Nagdi, a member of the Federation of Muslim Organisations (based in Leicester) 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,” Nagdi added.

Sanjiv Patel, a representative of Hindu and Jain temples in Leicester expressed his sadness about the disturbances that broke out on Saturday. Patel said, that the communities had lived in the same area in harmony for years and called for peace, “Across the Hindu and Jain community and with our Muslim brothers and sisters and leaders we are consistently saying ‘calm minds, calm heads’.”

He also called on people to not believe in social media disinformation.

The same message was reiterated by Claudia Webbe, the MP from Leicester. She said on Twitter, “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.”

Peter Soulsby, the mayor of Leicester, said that the tensions were triggered by social media disinformation. The Guardian reported that he told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, “I’ve seen quite a selection of the social media stuff which is very, very, very distorting now and some of it just completely lying about what had been happening between different communities.”