Hindu-Muslim Mob Violence Flares Tension in The United Kingdom

Communal tensions erupted in Leicester city, United Kingdom, in reaction to a cricket match. The match between India and Pakistan on August 28 in the Asia Cup is said to have sparked numerous protests, some of which turned very violent. While which side started the violence is highly debated, community leaders have called for calm as animosity between the Hindu and Muslim groups persists.

The protests and riots in Leicester vastly differ according to various sources.

Rukhsana Hussain, a Muslim community leader, told the Guardian about a radical group that marched through east Leicester on Saturday, September 17, chanting "Jai Shri Ram," a Hindu slogan meaning “Victory to Lord Ram.” Another woman who had seen the march had said that there were "people wearing balaclavas or with masks over their faces, and with hoods pulled up."

Videos of the march and protests throughout Belgrave road, a center of the South-Asian communities, were uploaded online on various social media. Masked men causing havoc can be seen in the videos.

As reported by the Anadolu Agency, glass bottles were thrown at Muslim counter-protesters. A Muslim local, Majid Freeman, told the Guardian about the young Muslims that led the counter-marches, "We can't trust the police. We're going to defend our community ourselves," Freeman said, "They were coming past our mosques, taunting the community and physically beating people up randomly,"

The Hindu groups, however, have different narratives. A former chairperson of a national Hindu organization, Drishti Mae, said that the Hindus were the targets of harassment.

On September 19, in a press release, the High Commission of India in London condemned "the violence perpetrated against the Indian Community in Leicester and vandalization of premises and symbols of Hindu religion."

The statement refers to a highly circulated video of a man pulling down a flag outside a Hindu religious building on Melton road, Leicester.

According to a report on OPIndia, the violence was a targeted attack on the Hindus by "armed Islamists." The report also added that a protest by the Hindus against the violence of the Islamists was disrupted as glass bottles were hurled at the protesters. A saffron 'om' flag, a symbol of the Hindu religion, was desecrated by an Islamic mob; this was done in front of the Leicester police.

Many on social media sided with the Hindus, Twitter user Anshul Saxena shared his outlook on how "plans" were conspired by radical Islamists to attack the Hindus. Another Twitter user, Aditya Raj Kaul, blamed the UK government and the police for not protecting the Hindus from "Pakistani Islamist organized gangs."

Law enforcement was dispatched to control the violence, and security was increased in the area. The Leicestershire Police tweeted, "violence and disorder will not be tolerated in our city. Dispersal and stop and search powers are in place and are being used. We are calling for calm and telling everyone to return home. Only share information that has been checked and is true,"

It is reported that as of September 18, 27 people were arrested. An emergency meeting was held between the police and the leaders of ethnic communities in the area. The Muslim, Hindu, and Jain community organizations in Leicester have promised to investigate the cause of the protests.

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