(CNS News) – Since last month’s cricket match between Pakistan and India, mobs of Muslims and Hindus have engaged in violent clashes in cities throughout the United Kingdom, causing community leaders to call for peace between the two groups.
On Aug. 28, during an Asia Cup 2022 cricket match, India defeated Pakistan in the first of many potential meetups between the two nations during the tournament.
India and Pakistan have had a long-standing bitter rivalry on and off the cricket field. As the New York Times has reported, these cricket matches between the two nations “draw on deeper reservoirs, issues of national identity that are wrapped into the fortunes of the competing cricket teams.”
Reports of clashes between Muslims and Hindus in the British city of Leicester on Aug. 28 led to several arrests over the course of a few days, according to Leicester police.
Hindu Om flag being desecrated by violent Islamist in front of Police. @leicspolice when will you take action against the rioters attacking Hindus in Leicester ? @ukhomeoffice pic.twitter.com/rR45OR84Tv— INSIGHT UK - Leicester (@INSIGHTLeicestr) September 17, 2022
Following weeks of scattered incidents throughout the city of Leicester, a crowd of around 200 Hindu men marched through the city on Saturday, Sept. 17, including in areas made up of mostly Muslim-owned businesses.
Some of the men were reportedly shouting “Jai Shri Ram,” which is described as a “war cry for far-right Hindus in India.” The phrase translates to “Hail Lord Ram.”
Young Muslim men came out in response to the march, leading to many scuffles in Leicester on both Saturday and Sunday. During the unrest, a local Hindu Temple was vandalized and a Hindu flag was removed and burned by a mob of Muslims. Leicester police arrested 47 individuals on charges such as “possession of offensive weapons or firearms, violent disorder and making threats to kill.”
Leaders from the Jame Mosque and the Iskcon Hindu temple in Leicester joined one another in calling for peace amid the violence that has been taking place. In a joint statement, the Muslim and Hindu community leaders in Leicester emphasized to their followers that the “two faiths have lived harmoniously in the wonderful city for over half a century.”
“We are from one family. We settled here in this city together, we fought the racists together, we built it up together. The recent violence is not who we are as a city.”— Darshna Soni (@darshnasoni) September 20, 2022
Joint statement on Hindu / Muslim tensions in Leicester pic.twitter.com/PPZLkusMeX
On Sept. 19, the Indian High Commission released a statement of condemnation of “the vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion.”
This prompted a response from Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of Muslim Council of Britain, which criticized the Indian High Commission’s failure to condemn both sides of the conflict in an open letter released on Sept. 20:
“Whilst it is right that we condemn the desecration of Hindu symbols, you must represent all Indians and also condemn the deliberate targeting, intimidation and instances of assault of Muslims and Sikhs by large groups of thugs chanting far-right Hindutva slogans, mirroring tactics used by the RSS communities of India. There is a clear hesitancy to call out these groups who have instigated this thuggery and their political ideology, which they seem to be attempting to import for India.”
“Hindutva,” which translates to “Hindu-ness,” refers to a political ideology with roots in British colonial rule in India. According to the Hindutva App website, which is a phone application created by supporters of the ideology, Hindutva “advocates for Hindu supremacy,” and is “based on the belief that Hindus are the true natives of India.”
Hindutva has been gaining popularity in India since the 1990s as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) amassed political power with its Hindu nationalist platforms. Many paint Hindutva’s emergence as a response to “the increasing assertiveness of Muslims and other minority groups in India.” Critics of the ideology accuse Hindutva of having “fascist and exclusionary tendencies.”
Recent expressions of Hindutva among British Hindus have raised concern among Muslims and other non-Hindutva supporters across the UK. Fahim Kayani, who is described as a leader in the British Muslim community, said that “what the Hindutva goons have done in the UK is a replica of what India is doing in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and with Muslims in India.”
“This mindset is bred in RSS labs in India from where these goons go to Kashmir to persecute Muslim population and have now spread across the world,” Kayani said of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the paramilitary arm of the BJP.
Sweden-based Indian professor Ashok Swain took to Twitter to blame the Leicester violence on the rise of Hindutva in India. “Hindu supremacists have changed India and Hindus living abroad,” wrote Swain.
Swain also advocated for the loss of protection from the host country, which in this case would be Great Britain, for “any diaspora group celebrating the home country’s regime.”
Any diaspora group celebrating the home country's regime must lose the right to the host country's protection on the ground of political persecution.— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) September 18, 2022
The Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, told The Telegraph that he blames social media for enflaming tensions between the two communities that he insists generally coexist in peace with one another:
“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. I have talked to a lot of community leaders and they are doing what they can to bring Leicester to normal because in Leicester, normal is very good relations between people of different faiths.”
According to the city’s website, “Leicester proudly holds the title of being one of the most multicultural cities in the UK.” https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/uks-most-diverse-city-leicester-5506545
“In 2011, the city was the first in the UK where the majority of residents identified as non-white British,” the city’s website states.
The conflict between the two groups spread beyond the city limits of Leicester. On Tuesday, Sept. 20, around 200 Muslims surrounded the Durga Bhawan Hindu Centre in the British town of Smethwick.
Videos taken at the temple show men dressed in black, many of them wearing hoods and masks, chanting slogans.
When the local police tried to prevent the crowd from advancing towards the Hindu temple, many started to climb over the temple’s fence in defiance of law enforcement.
Some are even climbing the walls in plain sight of law enforcement: pic.twitter.com/AXW7SfWGEs— Wasiq Wasiq (@WasiqUK) September 20, 2022
Some have blamed the country’s mass immigration policies for the rise of ethnic-conflicts between minority groups in the United Kingdom. Former British Prime Minister Nigel Farrage tweeted the following in response to the violence in Leicester over the weekend:
Virtually every single MP in Westminster is responsible for the ethnic and religious violence seen in Leicester.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 20, 2022
They decided to go down the road of diversity and multiculturalism.
Our politicians have done this to our great country.
“Virtually every single MP in Westminster is responsible for the ethnic and religious violence seen in Leicester.
They decided to go down the road of diversity and multiculturalism.
Our politicians have done this to our great country.”