Religious and ethnic violence in different parts of the world could increasingly spread to UK towns and cities, experts have warned after Hindu-Muslim clashes in India were blamed for sparking riots in Leicester.
The weekend’s unrest in Leicester was the culmination of several weeks of growing tension between parts of the Hindu and Muslim communities in the city. It reportedly began after a cricket match between India and Pakistan, at the end of August – and although India-Pakistan cricket matches are highly politically charged, one thing everyone I speak to in Leicester agrees on is none of this is about cricket. Whether the match inflamed existing tensions or served as an opportunity for outside instigators is now the subject of intense speculation.
The fight has spilled online, too. Claims of attacks on people because of their religion have gone viral – though many are unverified and, in one case, confirmed by police not to have happened. On Wednesday, officers urged people not to share unverified claims on social media. Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard one man sentenced for carrying a knife had been influenced by social media.