Leicester residents are said to be “timid” to leave their homes, as religious tensions led to clashes in the city, which have now spread to Birmingham.
Hundreds of masked people gathered outside the Durga Bhavan Hindu temple in Smethwick area of ââBirmingham on Tuesday night to protest a planned event.
Police were seen confronting the crowd with riot helmets and shields and attempting to drive them away from the temple as protesters marched to the surrounding border.
One person was arrested on suspicion of possessing a knife, witnesses claimed that bottles and firecrackers were thrown.
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Following scenes seen in Leicester a few days earlier, where clashes broke out on Saturday and Sunday, Leicestershire police arrested 47 people following tensions following a recent cricket match between India and Pakistan.
The incident took place when Hindu and Muslim leaders in Leicester issued a joint statement calling for unity and peace.
“Our two religions have lived harmoniously in this wonderful city for more than half a century,” it said. “Together we arrived in this city, together we faced similar challenges, together we fought racist hatred and collectively made this city a symbol of diversity and community unity.”
East Leicester MP Claudia Webe said communities in her constituency were hurt by the violence over the weekend.
âPeople have told me that they have not left their home since the first spark of the India vs Pakistan cricket match on August 28,â said Ms Webe independent.
âI have been working with a large number of communications and residents, especially women and youth, who are in need of support. They are scared, very scared. They are being told to fear their neighbours, People with whom they have grown up together for decades.
âPeople working in factories have said that they dropped the equipment to go home and protect their families. This is worrying as they are already living in poverty; They cannot bear any further loss of income. This is a real blow that is being inflicted on the community.”
The former Labor MP, who is now free after being found guilty of harassment, fears the situation is not alone.
So far a Leicester man has been jailed for his role in the incident, but police have confirmed that many of those arrested were from out of town.
Amos Noronha, 20, was sentenced to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to possessing an offensive weapon in connection with the violence, but no further details of his crime were released.
Local councilor Ahmed Bostan condemned the scenes, writing: “The disgusting scenes seen tonight in Smethwick do not represent the harmoniously rich diversity of our city, and those who came with the wrong intention will be dealt with by law.
“Our communities stand together against this kind of bigotry and hate-mongers are not welcome here.”
Ms Webb warned that “poisonous messages of hate” were spread on social media by extremist groups aimed at inciting violence among young men.
âWe must be able to tackle the extremism and right-wing fascism that plagues our online media, because that is where religious and racial hatred is being promoted and shared and developed,â Ms Webe said.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said an 18-year-old man was arrested at a protest in Smethwick on suspicion of possessing a knife.
“After a protest meeting in Smethwick last night” [20 September]There was some minor disorder and one person was arrested.
âWe had a pre-planned police presence near the temple in Spawn Lane, where fireworks and missiles were thrown at some of our officers. Thankfully there were no casualties.
âWe are also looking into the reports of a small number of cars getting damaged.
âTo help ensure that there was not an outbreak of serious violence, we had the powers to stop and search by this morning. We are continuing to provide a visible police presence, working closely with faith leaders and partners throughout the community to make sure we are safe.
“We will continue to monitor the situation locally and across the region.”
The High Commission of India and, on Tuesday, the Pakistan High Commission have both condemned the violence.
Leicestershire Police said they had been provided with a range of resources, with additional officers in the West Midlands, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
The force said Thames Valley Police horses have also been deployed to the city.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /