In September last year there was large scale civil unrest in Leicester, extending to Birmingham between the Muslim and Hindu communities. HJS Research fellow, Charlotte Littlewood, investigated the incidents, the roots of the unrest and its subsequent handling by media, politicians, and police. She concluded that community tensions relating to youth violence and noise control issues had been falsely dressed as “Hindutva extremism” and even “Hindu terrorism” creating fear and resulting in attacks on Hindu temples and properties. We submitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee on policing priorities as a means to raise concerns around the handling of community tensions in Leicester. This submission has been accepted and published and is available to view on the select committee website. A few highlights:
- Key to the civil unrest was a lack of trust in Leicester policing and a sense of vulnerability emanating from both communities. The Muslim community felt crimes against the Muslim community, noise issues and antisocial behaviour were not being taken seriously enough. The Hindu community felt that their properties and temples were under siege with little protection, whilst nothing was done to assure the Muslim community and wider public that there is no organised Hindutva extremism or Hindu terrorism in Leicester.
- Victims who have felt at fear for their safety have expressed a slow response time for attaining a home visit. There needs to be greater resources afforded to meeting the needs of victims who feel vulnerable and at risk, timely home visits being a priority.
- Communities need to understand the Local Authority role in noise control. Communities need to feel that they can hold festivals and celebrate their religion whilst those not involved in the festival need to be assured that these festivals will not continue loudly past a certain hour at night.
- Leicester police became more proactive towards the end of September in sharing police statements denoting where misinformation was being spread. This was very useful as misinformation was a large part of the reason for the escalation of violence. However the misinformation campaign that put the communities at the highest risk from violence was the ongoing claims of Hindutva extremist groups or Hindutva terrorist groups. An early clear statement of no history of Hindu terrorism or terrorist groups operating in Leicester could have helped avoid the movement of Muslims from other parts of the country to join the protest. The Hindu community are now left feeling vulnerable and undefended by police, politicians and the media.
We hope through our insight and support community tensions can be eased and further targeting of the Hindu community can be prevented.