We are one family: Religious leaders appeal for calm amid violence in UK’s Leicester

Hindu and Muslim community leaders in UK’s Leicester have appealed for calm and called for an immediate end to the weeks of violence and tensions which erupted after a cricket match between India and Pakistan played in Dubai on August 28. We are one family, they said, adding that both faiths will have “honest and uncomfortable” conversations to address all issues.

“We, the family of Leicester, stand in front of you not only as Hindus and Muslims but as brothers and sisters,” they said in a statement.

Earlier, the Indian High Commission in London had strongly protested against the violence and condemned the vandalising of a Hindu temple in the city. In a statement, the Commission sought immediate action against those involved in these attacks.

READ | Hindu temple targeted in UK’s Leicester, India seeks action

The strong response came after a Hindu temple was vandalised and a saffron flag outside it was pulled down by unidentified persons in East Leicester. A video of the incident showed a man, clothed in black, atop a building, pulling down a saffron flag while onlookers cheered him on. The temple was targeted in the presence of the UK Police.

Responding to the attacks, the religious leaders said in a joint statement, “Our two faiths have lived harmoniously in this city for over half a century. We arrived in the city together, we faced the same challenges together, we fought the racists together and collectively made this city a beacon of diversity. We are heartbroken to see the eruption of tensions, violence, physical attacks and unwarranted damage to properties.”

“We are a strong family. We will work together to resolve all the issues. Leicester has no place for foreign extremist ideology that causes division,” they further said.

“We ask all to respect the sanctity of religious places, both mosques and mandirs alike – whether provocation by loud music, flag bearing, derogatory chants or physical attacks against the fabric of worship. This is not acceptable nor upheld by our faith,” the community leaders added.

As many as 47 people have so far been arrested for involvement in the violence, according to the Leicestershire Police.

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