Violence between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester spreads to Birmingham

Riot squads were drafted in after clashes in Leicester at the weekend

Violence between young people in Leicester appears to have spread to Birmingham, where a masked mob surrounded a Hindu temple. PA
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Violence between young people in Leicester appears to have spread to Birmingham, where UK police were sent to disperse a masked mob surrounding a Hindu temple on Tuesday.

Riot squads were summoned to deal with clashes between members of Hindu and Muslim communities in Leicester at the weekend.

Footage shared on social media shows disorder has now erupted 65 kilometres (40 miles) away in Smethwick, near Birmingham.

Masked and hooded men were seen congregating outside the Durga Bhawan Hindu temple, which was reportedly pelted with bottles and firecrackers.

In footage shared on Twitter and seen by The National, officers wearing vests push the crowd back, away from the temple.

British police were diverted from Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral in London following disorder in Leicester at the weekend.

The trouble was sparked by a protest in the east of the city on Saturday, according to police.

But a Leicester faith leader said violence first began between the communities as a result of a “country-based dispute” after the Asia Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan on August 28.

India defeated Pakistan in the fixture, prompting celebrations in Leicester, where young men reportedly draped themselves in Indian flags.

Violence broke out and one man was arrested. Footage appeared to show Indian supporters chant ‘Pakistan Murdabad’, a Partition-era slogan which means “death to Pakistan”.

A series of incidents followed, said police, and the disorder has since led to 47 arrests.

Half of the first 18 people arrested came from outside the county, it has been reported. Sixteen officers and a police dog were injured in the violence.

Community leaders have claimed outsiders were sowing disorder by spreading false information to inflame religious tension.

Tensions in Leicester have been simmering for months, said independent MP for Leicester East, Claudia Webbe.

She said some constituents had voiced fears to her that violence was driven in part by “underlying Islamophobia in parts of Leicester’s communities, rather than an isolated incident”.

Suleman Nagdi, from the city's Federation of Muslim Organisations, said it was the first time he could remember the Hindu and Muslim communities becoming violent. Mr Nagdi said “loyalties kicked in” after last month's cricket match.

“The start [of the disorder] was the cricket match ― it is a country-based dispute.

“It is usually younger people who are involved in it ― hopefully we can connect with their parents,” he said.

Updated: September 21, 2022, 1:55 PM