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Leicester Muslims cry Islamophobia after police investigation of riots gathers pace

Leicester Police reported 'significant aggression' as dozens of officers were injured during the violence (Photo: IANS)

Muslim organisations have begun to play the Islamophobia card after police investigations based on CCTV footage have raised suspicions about the involvement of Muslim youth in the violence.

Leicester was in the grip of communal tensions in September-October 2022.

The Leicester police released ten photographs of men on Tuesday asking the public to help identify them. The photos were taken from CCTV footage related to the communal violence that shocked the UK, forcing even King Charles to make inquiries about the unprecedented violence in a city known for its inter-faith harmony.

Photographs released by the Leicester police (Photo: https://www.leics.police.uk/)

The police made 100 arrests and are still searching for more people related to the violence. In an update on Wednesday, it said that five men came forward by themselves and their photographs have been removed. The police updated its appeal to the public to identify five other men.

Riding on the well-worn theme of Islamophobia, local Muslims had planned to hold a protest against the photographs, which they felt showed ‘Muslim faces’. Local newspaper, Leicester Mercury says that the protest, slated for Wednesday evening at Spinney Hills police station, however, did not take place.

Photographs of people released by the Leicester police (Photo: https://www.leics.police.uk/)

Local organisation, Active Muslims Leicester, has written to Leicester police chief Rob Nixon, drawing attention to photographs released by the police. The letter says: “… It is therefore deeply concerning, that the Police would release photographs of individuals, seeking their identification, without any prior consultation with members of the Muslim community”.

The letter further says: “The photographs released all appear to be of Muslims, inevitably prompting concerns about a disproportionate approach to this enquiry. The release could be perceived as targeting one group in particular…”. Refuting the suggested insinuation about targeting the Muslims, the police has said that it has taken a “consistent approach” in the investigation.

On the other hand Hindu groups feel that Muslim organisations are trying to influence police investigations by holding a meeting with the Leicester police. In a tweet, Insight UK said: “We appreciate the efforts of @leicspolice to identify perpetrators of the #LeicesterViolence. It’s not surprising that those who spread disinformation, falsely blaming #Hindus, are now protesting against the police investigation showing CCTV footage & photos of the perpetrators”.

An independent investigation in November by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS)—a trans-Atlantic think tank in the UK—said that false allegations by Leicester’s Muslim organisations put the Hindu community at risk from hate, vandalism and assault.

Another investigation by the US-based Network Contagion Research Institute said that “malicious online narratives”, “ethnic hatred” and false reports by Muslims—child kidnapping and attacks on a local mosque—led to unprecedented violence. It also pointed out the role played by supporters of terror organisations Al Qaeda and ISIS in amplifying false information that led to unrest against the Hindus.

Most of these social media claims were found to be false by the local police.

Communal violence broke out against Hindus in Leicester after India won a cricket match in the Asia Cup in Dubai. Muslim youth attacked Hindu symbols in Leicester including homes, cars and the local temple. Mobs even threatened the Hindus to leave Leicester in a replay of anti-Hindu violence seen in Kashmir in the early nineties.

A barrage of social media posts by the Muslims exhorted other members of their community to come from Birmingham and London which further fanned violence against Hindus, forcing some families to flee the city in fear.

With social media fuelling hatred against the Hindus, which was picked up by the British mainstream media, Indians took up the biased coverage of the Leicester attacks by protesting against the BBC and The Guardian.

The Leicester riots against the Hindus presented a challenge for British society as nearly 25 police officers were injured in the violence.

Also Read: UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman visits troubled Leicester—Islamist lies nailed