by Rakib Ehsan
Monday, 19
September 2022
Explainer
10:00

Sub-continental sectarianism arrives on Leicester’s streets

Nearly 30 arrests have been made over the past few weeks
by Rakib Ehsan
Police and protesters in Belgrave Road on Sunday afternoon

Once regarded as the model example of a cohesive hyper-diverse locality in modern-day Britain, the city of Leicester is in danger of collapsing into a Hindutva-Islamist battleground in the East Midlands. 

It has been reported by the Leicester Mercury that the recent escalation in community tensions started after the Asia Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 28. Before the weekend, it was reported that a total of twenty-seven people had been arrested. Another fifteen arrests have recently been made after further public disturbances in the Asian-dominant areas of East Leicester such as Belgrave.

Compared to many other multi-ethnic, religiously diverse parts of Britain, Leicester has been relatively successful in integrating and managing its diversity of communities. However, in recent times, ultra-religious identity politics and geopolitical grievances have gained a foothold in the city and subsequently undermined community cohesion. 

Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour parachuted then-Islington borough councillor Claudia Webbe into the constituency of Leicester East — to the dismay of the local party and some in the city’s Gujarati-Hindu-communities. Webbe was part of an ‘emergency motion’ passed at the 2019 Labour Party conference which called for an “international intervention” in territorially-disputed Kashmir. Sundip Meghani, a former Labour councillor and parliamentary candidate who ran for selection in Leicester East, described Webbe’s selection as a “slap in the face for the Indian community”. 

In response, organisations affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India — such as the Overseas Friends of BJP UK — called on British voters of Indian Hindu origin to turn their backs on Labour and offer their support to the Conservatives. With the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India under Gujarat-born Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the interference of BJP-affiliated organisations has heightened the risk of divisive communalism shaping local politics in parts of inner-city Britain with diverse South Asian populations.

The arrival of subcontinental-style sectarianism in Leicester has seen an escalation in religiously-motivated public disorder. While Islamists have intimidated Hindus, vandalised a mandir and destroyed saffron flags of religious significance, pro-Hindutva marches have taken place through Leicester’s Muslim-dominant neighbourhoods with the chanting of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Meaning ‘Glory to Lord Rama’, it is a religio-political slogan which has increasingly been employed in India for the perpetration of communal violence against the country’s non-Hindu minorities. 

Britain remains one of the most successful examples of a multi-ethnic democracy in the modern world. Indeed, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s inclusive seventy-year reign stressed the commonalities which cut across our different religious communities. But recent events in Leicester show what can happen if interfaith relations are neglected by political and social institutions who should prioritise community relations over identitarian opportunism. 

Leicester was once viewed by social-cohesion experts as the jewel in Britain’s diversity crown. But it is now becoming an example of how foreign-inspired sectarianism and religious extremism can take root in diverse parts of the country where there is a clear absence of effective socio-political leadership. 

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Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 months ago

Claudia Webbe was found guilty of harassment on evidence that included her threatening a woman with an acid attack. Yet she remains an MP. She is clearly not someone who can offer to mediate between warring groups (even if you disregard how she became the Labour candidate).
This violence is the triumph of identity politics.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
2 months ago

Looks like people get what they vote for.

Webbe’s Conservative opponent in 2019 had a distinctly Indian sounding name, but lost. Before that, they kept returning the extremely suspect Keith Vaz.

I see that Webbe’s sentence was reduced on appeal, so a recall is not possible. For all Johnson’s faults, he didn’t pursue a campaign of harassment and threats. Yet, we’re still hearing about cake this, party that, while Webbe is broadly allowed to carry on. See also the COVID Margaret fiasco in Scotland.

Last edited 2 months ago by Al M
Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
2 months ago

This obsession with multi-culturalism is a phenomenon of the liberal woking-class elites of the western democracies. Most cultures outside of this political geography display a marked preference for being with their own kind. They perpetuate their own religious, social, ethnic and community interests without much if any interest in subsuming themselves within a wider cultural context. One won’t encounter preoccupation with multi-culturalism and inclusivity in, for example, China, Burundi, Afghanistan or Japan, except for their cultural appropriation of western technology.

Paul Hughes
Paul Hughes
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Pellatt

‘This obsession with multi-culturalism is a phenomenon of the liberal woking-class elites of the western democracies. Most cultures outside of this political geography display a marked preference for being with their own kind’. 
Such inclinations are not only drawn across ethnic or even national divisions, indeed I think value systems are of greater influence.
You will find that the liberal ‘woking-class’ elites have as great a preference for their ‘own kind’ – and a commensurate hatred of others – as any that may be manifest elsewhere.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hughes

Mrs Webbe a case in point

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

Interesting as to how our Orwellian, woke ruled media avoided mentioning that this was a Hindu v Muslim issue… Can one imagine reporting conflict from Ulster avoiding the Catholic v Protestant issue?

Am I not correct in understanding that India has barred all Muslim immigration a year or so ago?

Do most people actually know why India was divided post independence?… No, most people in Britain do not even know the difference between Indians, and Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

The fact is, again that the media and politicians avoid is that the Indians are far more successful in every area of life than the muslims in Britain, and for that matter than the rest of us, and like the Jews, keep quiet about it.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 months ago

The Woke narrative in defiance of historical facts is that the partition of India and Pakistan with its consequent violence was forced upon Hindus and Muslims alike.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 months ago

‘..was forced upon…’ – we’ll, they hardly had a vote, did they? I’d say it’s a fairly good phrase, and not really in defiance of fact. But it’s a fair bit more complex than that.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago

Exactly – complicated. It was forced upon the people of India by their leaders, not the Raj but Nehru and Jinnah, particularly the latter.

Jim Bo
Jim Bo
2 months ago

‘India’ historically referred to a landmass like Africa or Europe, not a country or a nation. The ‘Indian’ identity was created in the latter half of British rule. Before the Raj South Asians had no notion of belonging to a single community.

0 0
0 0
2 months ago

You are wrong when saying India has barred Muslim immigration. The law passed in 2019 only fast-tracked citizenship from countries that were part of (undivided) India and were facing religious persecution. Being successful is not a crime.

Jim Bo
Jim Bo
2 months ago
Reply to  0 0

‘Undivided India’ is nothing but a fiction. What you really mean is the British Indian Empire and Afghanistan was never a part of it but Afghans get fast-tracked citizenship from India.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

Spot on, thanks to MSM most of the ‘demos’ haven’t a clue about India. As for State Education, to which 93% of children are subjected, even worse.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago

Immigrants will bring their culture with them. Who expected otherwise?

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Is this what is happening in Sweden?

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

…as yet, nothing like as bad…Sweden currently “enjoys” pretty much the highest murder rate in Europe, with many attacks carried out by grenade…and practically all the perpetrators drawn from those either not born in Sweden, or with parents not born there. Although I think the root cause in Sweden is crime, not sectarian ideology…
Isn’t multi-culturalism wonderful…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

No, they bring barbarism with them.
How else could it be otherwise?

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 months ago

Diversity is not a strength. Screaming it on every newspaper and from every government bureau for decades does not make it so.
Countries can handle a lot of diversity regarding means (“how do we achieve the common good?”, “how do we balance competing goals?”) but significant deviations on ends (“what is good?”) are fatal.
Turns out secular liberalism isn’t a strong enough glue to compete with religion and ethnic tribal loyalties.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 months ago

It really is quite extraordinary. Europe fought wars for hundreds of years to draw borders that would allow enough ethnic homogeneity to make governance possible.

And then with just 20-30 years of peace they thought, “let’s just recreate all the ethnic divisions that we just resolved through centuries of war.”

They use words like “balkanise” as though they have no understanding of what happened in the Balkans.

Nigeria, India and most of the world are trying to get to a point of homogeneity where practical governance is possible and, Europe, having largely solved this problem, recreates it of its volition.

The incompetence, olympic stupidity and ideological blindness of this suicide mission is horrifying.

And the tory’s have a lot to answer for. Net migration this last year was 500 000. They are too incompetent to see the problem of ethnic incompatability, much less address it, and their continued existence as a party may be drawing to an end as these predictable and predicted problems increasingly come to a head.

D Glover
D Glover
2 months ago

The British conquest of India was one of the strangest things in world history. In the 17th century the two were at technological parity. British innovations like steam trains, steam ships, breech-loading guns and the telegraph lay ahead in the 19th century.
The British crown was usually penniless while the Mughals were a byword for wealth. There was a huge disparity in size and population, both in India’s favour.
No-one would have bet on the Brits.
India was extremely diverse; different races, languages and religions. Not only were there Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, but the Hindu majority were further divided by caste.
Is it possible that the exemplary diversity of Indians made it possible for the British, few in number, penurious, technically not advanced, to exploit them?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

Very good question. But surely even the lo-tech gun-power the British had was a big advantage at the time? And tactical superiority was valuable, too.

D Glover
D Glover
2 months ago

No, the Mughal empire had matchlock muskets and muzzle loading cannons, just like us.
And they had elephants!
At the battle of Plassey, 1757,  Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army with about 50,000 soldiers, 40 cannons and 10 war elephants was defeated by 3,000 soldiers of Col. Robert Clive. The British had six field guns and two howitzers.

Last edited 2 months ago by D Glover
Graham Campbell
Graham Campbell
2 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

How then was the British victory at Plassey possible and how were we able to conquer India? This is not a rhetorical question. I would like to know.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago

I believe that victory was assured when Mir Jafar, the Nawab of somewhere that I can’t remember, defected to the British; importantly he was the senior commander of the British opponent.

D Glover
D Glover
2 months ago

Jafar Ali Khan. Clive promised to make him Nawab of Bengal.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Plassey

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

…up to a point, although we were more advanced in ship-building, gun-founding…and both military and civilian administration. Essentially we went to trade, got a concession to create a base for that purpose…and ran it so well that we got more and more drawn in to local matters…often invited to do so by Rulers seeking our support against their enemies, or looking for greater efficency in matters like tax collection…

D Glover
D Glover
2 months ago
Reply to  R S Foster

often invited to do so by Rulers seeking our support against their enemies,

That’s pretty much what I said. Extreme diversity made them eminently divisible.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

Yet India was conquered by two Moslem Empires long before the British got there, and apart from the rulers was a very poor sub continent. The Moslem Empires were won by military might, and destroyed much of Hindu culture.

michael harris
michael harris
2 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

But Hindu culture was never destroyed either in the centuries of the Delhi sultanate or during the rule of the Mughals. Indeed conservative Muslim scholars feared during the reign of Akbar and his two successors that Islam might be dissolved in India. And it was for more than a century until the accession of Aurangzeb that strict Islamists fought a defensive action against elements they thought assimilationist – notably the Chistiya sufis. The long march of what became the Deobandis then the Taliban started in opposition to Akbar’s syncretism in the 1580s. Though the force of Muslim arms and rule overwhelmed many of the lands they conquered, in India they failed to subdue people they regarded contemptuously as worshipers of idols and animals.

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
2 months ago

Seems to me there has been a fatal ignoring of the requirement to ensure integration; or rather there has been a, not unsuccessful, intimidating of the ‘native’ population of these isles into accepting undigested immigrant communities. Of course, the overwhelming majority of immigrants just want to get on, and good luck to them, but for those who can’t, they fall back into their own community, and here they are prey to so-called ‘community leaders’ for whom identity politics offer a route to power.

It happened with the Irish, in their successive immigration waves, and is happening now with South Asian communities. I do know whereof I speak for those interested: my Mother was Irish, and my Father’s family is too (two generations further back); my father-in-law is also from Pakistan. In all three instances, successfully integrating immigrants got on; those that didn’t invariably fell back into the hands of ‘their communities’.

Integration is hard work though: much easier to hope it just sort of happens but it rarely does and second generation immigrants can be particularly vulnerable.

Jim Bo
Jim Bo
2 months ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

Totally agree, but this recent violence in Leicester was caused by students and other recent arrivals from India pumped up with hardline Hindu nationalist ideology. The Gujarati Hindu and Gujarat Muslim communities of Leicester are both peaceful and law abiding.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Bo

Fake narrative. Read this:
Did misinformation fan the flames in Leicester? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-63009009

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 months ago

The only silver lining being that the children of Leicester will be a bit safer while the Muslims are distracted.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 months ago

So the Hindus shout things but the Muslims have vandalised and destroyed Hibdu property. Its not exactly like for like.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 months ago

In India, Islamists hurt and bully Hindus all day long, both inside and from Pakistan next-door. It’s a common thing, both in that region of the world and elsewhere.

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

Something something foaming in the Tiber.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
2 months ago

recent events in Leicester show what can happen if interfaith relations are neglected by political and social institutions who should….” – Wo, wo, WO, stop right there. Let’s not blame the inclusive, respectful host culture for the violent sins which some religions consistently import to whatever nations host them –
Every. Single. Time.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

We need a Lieutenant Colonel Colin Mitchel here. He ‘sorted out’ Crater in short order.