Just what is going on in Leicester? Last night violence broke out in the city after hundreds of young men in Covid masks and balaclavas took to the streets as part of an ‘unplanned protest’. The police attempted to contain the protestors but soon lost control of the situation. Videos posted online show officers struggling to contain the crowds while bottles fly and smash on the pavement around them. In another unverified video a group of men flip a car. According to the police, two arrests have been made and they are investigating several other incidents of violence and disorder.
For the past few weeks Leicester has become a kind of mini-Kashmir in the middle of England, with clashes, protests and disorder breaking out in the city between young Muslim and Hindu men. It’s a remarkable turn of events for a city which has long prided itself on being a functioning multicultural society, a place where Hindus and Muslims live alongside one another in relative harmony.
The trouble began at the end of August when, on a cricket field thousands of miles away in Dubai, India defeated Pakistan by five wickets in an Asia Cup match.
After the game large crowds of young men draped in Indian flags began celebrating on Melton Road in Leicester. The celebrations soon turned nasty – with fights breaking out, and one man arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker. Videos of the celebrations show Indian supporters appearing to chant ‘Pakistan Murdabad’, a partition era slogan which can be roughly translated as ‘death to Pakistan’.
According to Leicester police, this was followed by a ‘series of incidents’ in different areas of the city over the following week.