Leicester is sometimes held up as a success story in multicultural Britain. The city is a melting pot where people of all creeds and colours live side-by-side. However, recent events have tarnished that reputation.
Over the weekend, once again there were violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the east of the city. Leicestershire Police announced last night that a total of 47 arrests have been made, for offences ranging from assault to violent disorder.
On Saturday, an ‘unplanned protest’ by a group of Hindu young men triggered a counterprotest by members of the Muslim community. Young men can be seen in video footage with their hoods up and faces covered (wearing covid masks and balaclavas), walking the streets in large groups looking menacing. They are separated by police. Some can be seen carrying weapons, clearly prepared for violent confrontation. There are moments when it looks like the police are struggling to maintain control; at one point, officers are pelted with bottles.
The troubling incidents of recent days appear to be an escalation of violence that broke out after an India v Pakistan cricket match on 28 August, when anti-Pakistan slogans were shouted. But nearly a month on from those ugly clashes, the unrest has continued.
In one unverified video, which appears to have been taken in recent days, a feral mob is seen smashing up a car and attacking the driver. In another, a young man’s face is bloodied; he is mocked as a police officer comes to his aid. Another clip shows an angry group opposite an officer in the dog unit, one shouts: ‘Don’t be scared of the f***ing dog.’
For now, police have managed to contain the worst of the violence.