Community leaders invoke shared past and the fight "together" against "racist haters" to stress for peace in UK city beset with protests, clashes
Community leaders from among Hindus and Muslims of Leicester in the UK today issued a joint statement appealing for an end to a cycle of violence that escalated over the past week after the first altercations over an Asia Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan last month.
"We, the family of Leicester, stand in front of you not only as Hindus and Muslims but as brothers and sisters," said one of the leaders, reading out the joint statement. He stressed that Leicester has "no place for any foreign extremist ideology that causes division".
"Our two faiths have lived harmoniously in this wonderful city for over half a century. We arrived in this city together. We faced the same challenges together. We fought off racist haters together, and collectively made this city a beacon of diversity and community cohesion," he read from the statement.
He added that the communities are "saddened and heartbroken" over the "tension and violence" that are "not part of a decent society".
"What we have seen is not what we're about," the leader said. "We ask all to respect the sanctity of religious places, both mosques and temples alike," he added, urging people not to give in to "provocation with loud music, flag-bearing, derogatory chants or physical attacks against the fabric of worship".
The police today said they have made 47 arrests as part of an ongoing operation to deter further disorder in the eastern England city.
The tension that began after the August 28 cricket match, in which India defeated Pakistan, was reignited by rumours about damage to religious places that went viral on social media. Protests and rallies, with angry slogans, were then held on Saturday and Sunday.
Police today said a 20-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon during the clashes. Amos Noronha, from the local area, appeared at Leicester Magistrates' Court after his arrest during Saturday's incident and was quickly charged due to "overwhelming evidence".
Rob Nixon, Temporary Chief Constable at Leicestershire Police, said, "Some of those arrested were from out of the city, including some people from Birmingham."
The Indian High Commission in London had intervened against the reported vandalising of a temple in Leicester. Members of the Muslim community had cited a rally by some Hindu groups as "provocative" and "abusive".