Hindu-Muslim civil unrest in Leicester

Think tank: The Henry Jackson Society

Author(s): Charlotte Littlewood

November 3, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Henry Jackson Society looks at “Hindutva” and the creation of a false narrative.

From 4th-20th September 2022, there was significant civil unrest between ethnic minority groups in Leicester, including vandalism of property, assaults, stabbings and attacks on places of worship. Most notably, on the weekend of 17th September, marches comprised of Hindu and Muslim adherents occurred in the city, accompanied by chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Allah u Akhbar’. Some Hindu and Muslim protestors wore balaclavas and others were arrested for possession of weapons. At present there have been 55 arrests/voluntary police interviews. Following the protests, Charlotte Littlewood, a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, investigated the underlying tensions. Spending time in Leicester conducting interviews with both Muslim and Hindu residents, compiling social media evidence, video evidence, police reports and statements. She observed a community cohesion breakdown pertaining to loud festivals, antisocial behaviour and a conflict between Muslim youth and Hindu youth stemming from territorial attitudes towards one another. The report that has resulted is the first in-depth collation of evidence and analyses of what led to the unrest. Contrary to press reports at the time, the investigations did not find Hindutva extremist organisations operating in Leicester, but instead discovered a micro-community cohesion issue falsely presented as an issue of organised Hindutva extremism and terrorism. It finds that false allegations of RSS terrorists and Hindutva extremist organisations active in the UK has put the wider Hindu community at risk from hate, vandalism and assault. Some members of the Hindu community in Leicester imposed a voluntary curfew, some relocated to stay with family or friends until they felt safe to return, while still others were unable to return to work owing to fears for their personal safety.