An independent report on the clashes between Muslim and Hindu Youth in Leicester during August 2022, states that misinformation has stirred up anti-Hindu sentiment and placed Hindu Communities under threat.
The report castigates mainstream media for reliance on two of the Muslim influencers who have spewed the false information about widescale Hindutva (Hindu fascism) amongst Leicester’s youth, ‘perpetuating the threat against the Hindu community’
The report also debunks accusations that Hindu youth had links to hardline political group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) despite numerous social media inputs by Muslims who wanted to fan the flames of hate.
The author suggests that one of the Muslim influencers has been convicted on terrorism charges, one has praised the suspected mastermind of the Bombay bombings and one has offered prayers to the Taliban and was reported to have offered prayers to the brothers of an ISIL fighter.
An inquiry into the violence in East Leicester has been halted after Dr Allen resigned. Opposition to his selection to lead the investigation was based on his earlier comments that their was no evidence that Islamic extremism influenced the riots.
A report titled ‘Hindu-Muslim civil unrest in Leicester “Hindutva” and the creation of a false narrative’, written by Charlotte Littlewood of the Henry Jackson Society’s ‘ (HJS) , Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism, has denied any RSS influence on the 17th September 2022 riots in Leicester. Read more about the riots (here)
Ms Littlewood’s summary of the riots states:
“From the 4th September to the 20th September there was civil unrest in Leicester, extending to Birmingham, including vandalism of property, assaults, stabbings and attacks on places of worship leading to numerous arrests, voluntary interviews and charges.”
Read a full copy of the report which includes visible evidence (here).
Though the report published on 3rd November does not in anyway absolve Hindu youth for their part in the riots, but suggests that both sides wee ‘holding prejudicial attitudes towards one other’, it confirms that no affiliation to any Hindu extremist groups could be proven.
The study reveals how angst over anti-social behavior by a new Hindu migrant group, escalated to become a war between faith. Hurt was caused by overt and raucous celebration of Hindu Festivals.
“Some interviewees reported that there have been regular Hindu festivals in the streets and in homes that can end late and be loud. A Muslim lady living in one of the LE5 areas that was worst affected by the vandalism and protest says the community conflict is predominantly owed to loud festivals…”
Action was taken by local Muslims and Majid Freeman a local Muslim activist tweeted about this. It seems that from this moment clashes between the faiths increased. In her report, Ms Littlewood wrote:
“Muslim activist and one of our discussed influencers, Majid Freeman, shared a sound clip from August 22nd in which music can be heard in the background and asserted that after Muslims had made their presence known in the streets the ‘troublemakers’ has disappeared.”
British Asian Christian Association, has previously shared a video they retrieved, that we believe illustrates how local Muslim youth made their presence known. We share that again: (it has been made age restricted by YouTube so please click where it says Watch on Youtube)
Cricket wins and losses exacerbated the situation and became triggers for Indian (predominantly Hindu) and Pakistani (predominantly Muslim) outrage. Reactions to hubris sowed the seeds for a religious war. Further clashes between these two communities led to an unplanned protest by Hindu youth. A shortage of police officers due to the secondment of many officers to London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, meant that things got out-of-control. It did not help that some Hindu youth came masked and with intent to create fear by carrying weapons. Not long after Muslim youth retaliated with their own ‘protests’. At this point temples were being desecrated, violence and abuse increased and a number of Police officers were injured while being attacked for trying to keep the peace. Videos with bottles being thrown and wide-scale rioting paint a very bleak picture.
Though both Muslim and Hindu youth rioted and clashed with police, The Guardian only wrote about the march by Hindu Youth (click here). Al Jazeera wrote about the scourge of Hindu Nationalism (click here), stating that ‘Hindu nationalists now pose a global problem’. In a further article the Guardian speaks of the removal of a flag from a religious building, failing to inform that it was a Hindu temple being desecrated by Muslims (click here). Worse still, in that article the Guardian interview Majid Freeman who is one of the Muslim influencers spoken about in the HJS report. It seemed media groups were very one-sided focusing on the first Hindu youth protest and nothing before or after the event.
Though Leicestershire Police later exposed the story as false, this was not before Muslim influencers had shared stories about Hindu pedophiles, and had even put up the name and address of an innocent man on social media.
We've seen reports on social media that a mosque is being attacked. Officers on the ground have confirmed this is not true. Please only share information on social media you know to be true.
— Leicestershire Police (@leicspolice) September 17, 2022
Leicester police also debunked further claims by Islamists on social media, who were stirring up hatred by alleging Hindus had attacked a mosque.
The Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, on 21stSeptember 2022, confirmed that community leaders, councillors and local police had agreed to commission an independent review of the East Leicester riots. The report was to be informal and focus on 6 points on inquiry:
- What was it that actually caused the disturbance?
- What happened before and during the disturbances and what has happened since?
- Why did the disturbances happen when they did?
- What were the drivers for that?
- What were the warning signs?
- What do you think the potential is for something similar happening in future? Read more (here)
Mr Soulsby, appointed Dr Chris Allen to preside over the the independent inquiry. The result of which was a huge backlash from the local Hindu community. In total 15 Hindu groups even threatened to boycott the review (click here).
Mr Allen, an associate professor of hate studies at the University of Leicester, he also lectures on Islamophobia (click here). Comments made by Mr Allen in an article published in The Conversation on 28th September, indicate a significant bias, while describing the attack he seems focused on the false narrative of Hindutva that had been promoted by Muslim influencers. In the opinion piece, he shares the opinion that there is no evidence of Islamist extremism within the Muslim response, in clear contradiction of the report by HJS. he wrote:
“Some will assume this to be Islamist extremism. Despite there being no evidence to support such an assumption, research shows that a key trope of Islamophobia is the conflation of all things Islam with extremism. The mere involvement of Muslims will be evidence enough for some to jump to such a conclusion.” Read the full article (here)
Though Mr Allen was defended by both the University of Leicester and Mr Soulsby, he himself resigned from the position (click here). Mr Allen was subjected to a large number of threats and abuse after his appointment, but he has stated that this was not the reason for his pulling out of the inquiry. He said:
“I have reluctantly taken the decision to stand down from the role on the basis that I no longer feel confident that my team and I are able to conduct the review in a way that the ensuing findings would meet the necessary levels of academic scrutiny.” You can read his full statement (here)
Whether or not Mr Allen was the right person for the role, his exit has left the inquiry in limbo. Originally, a date of March 2023 had been set to produce the report. Inevitably, that deadline will need to be extended, especially as no-one has yet been selected to preside over the report.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, said:
“Peace-keepers among both communities are striving for answers to why Leicester is the crucible for such inflamed tensions.
“Leaders from both the Islamic and Hindu faiths, hark back to more harmonious times, but in all honesty such schism and angst takes years to manifest.
“The fact remains, that social-media influencers bent on a hatred agenda have generated increased polarisation.
“This is a poor indictment of how many prejudices exist between some Hindu and Muslim youth of Leicester, who do not share the same spirit of unity as their forebears.
“I hope the Inquiry comes to fruition and provides a beacon of hope for both communities, to kindle or rekindle (as the case may be) stronger togetherness.
“Certainly the current social malaise has come about from misunderstandings, myths and misrepresentations.
“Some clarity should help salve community hurt.”
Mrs Chowdhry, added:
“The results of this are way more far reaching.
“Similar protest/riots by Muslims occurred before a temple in Birmingham only days later.
“Further afield in London a Temple in Brent was threatened and the local MP spoke out against it (click here).
“The report should be shared across the country so that Councils everywhere can better understand the triggers for faith conflict – this will allow for the hardening of community protection strategies.”