Members of Leicester’s Hindu and Muslim communities have issued a joint statement, condemning the violent disorder which has been taking place in the East of the city.
They gathered this afternoon (Tuesday, September 20) at Jame Masjid Mosque, following a weekend of violent disorder in the East of the city, between members of the Hindu and Muslim communities.
On Sunday night, 18 people were arrested for a number of offences including affray, common assault, possession of an offensive weapon and violent disorder.
Speaking outside the mosque earlier today, Hindu Community Leader, Pradyumna Pradip Gajjar, said that both Hindu and Muslim communities were “saddened and heartbroken” to see the eruption of tension and violence in the once peaceful city.
“Our two faiths have lives harmoniously in this wonderful city for over half a century. We arrived in this city together, we face the same challenges together, we fought off racist haters together, and collectively made this city a beacon of diversity, and community cohesion,” he said in a joint statement, issued by the Hindu and Muslim communities.
“That is why today we are saddened and heartbroken to see the eruption of tension and violence, physical attacks on innocent individuals and unwarranted damage to property, which are not part of a decent society.”
As a result of the weekend’s violence, 25 Police officers were injured, as well as an award-winning police dog.
“I’m saddened by the whole incident,” said Rob Nixon, temporary chief constable of Leicestershire Police.
“These people are not only my officers, they are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers trying to protect and serve the community. I’m devastated that the police are being placed in this position.
“Officers were hit by missiles and fingers were damaged. An award-winning dog has been injured and may have to be retired,” he revealed.
People from cities outside of Leicester travelled to take part in the weekend’s violence, with hundreds turning out for an ‘unplanned protest,’ beginning on Belgrave Road.
One man, Amos Noronha, of Illingworth Road, Leicester, who was arrested on Saturday night, has now been sentenced to 10 months in prison. He appeared at Leicester Magistrates’ Court yesterday morning (Monday, September 19) after pleading guilty to possession of an offensive weapon.
Mr Nixon said that more sentences would be given in due course.
Although East Leicester remained significantly calmer last night, he wished to assure the public that policing operations will remain in place over the next couple of weeks.
“We are not at all complacent,” he said.
“We’re hoping that people will see sense and listen to community leaders in their calls for calm.
“A complex mix of different issues, have led to this tension and it requires a broader response from multiple authorities across the community working together.”
Suleman Nagdi from the city’s Federation of Muslim Organisations, said that those involved in the disorder are young people who have arrived from India over the past five years.
More work needs to be done to bridge the gap between these new arrivals, and the settled community, he told the Leicester Times.
“There’s a clash between these young people and the settled community who are here already, and that bridge hasn’t quite been built between the two communities,” he said.
“A lot of work needs to be done to try and bring them onto the same hymn sheet, so people understand that we are here together as one community.
“The authorities need to start engaging with young people, whatever their views are, whether we agree or disagree, it’s important that they feel listened to,” he added. “For too long we have not engaged correctly and properly with our younger generation.
“They face many challenges that some of the older generation may not have, one of those is that they have a continuous bombardment of news and instant access from social media. Then there’s the cost of living, then there’s the career path, then there’s they can’t get onto the housing ladder.
“They’re facing different challenges to what our generation did, and in a way, I understand their frustrations. The old answers may not fit necessarily with the newer generation.”