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'Heartbroken' Hindu and Muslim leaders call to end 'violence' in Leicester

Hindu and Muslim community leaders in Leicester have called for an immediate end to weeks of violent disturbances following a cricket match between India and Pakistan.

Images show police attempting to deal with the unrest

Images show police attempting to deal with the unrest© Sky News Screen Grab

The widespread disorder - since an Asia Cup cricket match on 28 August - has led to one man being jailed and 47 arrests in total, with a faith leader saying it was sparked by a "country-based dispute" after the cricket.

On Tuesday, city leaders urged "the inciters of hatred" to stop the "provocation and violence - both in thought and behaviour", and urged troublemakers from outside the city to stay away.

"Leicester has no place for any foreign extremist ideology that causes division," they said in a joint statement.

"We, the family of Leicester, stand in front of you not only as Hindus and Muslims but as brothers and sisters.

"Our two faiths have lived harmoniously in this wonderful city for over half a century.

We arrived in this city together. We faced the same challenges together; we fought off racist haters together and collectively made this city a beacon of diversity and community cohesion."

'This is not upheld by our faiths'

"That is why we are saddened and heartbroken to see the eruption of tension and violence," they added.

"Physical attacks on innocent individuals and unwarranted damage to property are not part of a decent society and, indeed, not part of our faiths. What we have seen is not what we're about."

"We ask all to respect the sanctity of religious places, both mosques and mandirs alike - whether provocation with loud music, flag bearing, derogatory chants or physical attacks against the fabric of worship.

"This is not acceptable nor upheld by our faiths."

Warning that violence could spread beyond city

Suleman Nagdi, from the city's Federation of Muslim Organisations, said "loyalties kicked in" after the cricket match.

Tensions escalated over the weekend after unplanned protests on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The trouble had been fuelled by some "very distorted social media stuff" as well as people coming from outside to "have a bit of a set-to", Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Police had previously warned people against posting "unhelpful speculation online".

However, Majid Freeman, a Muslim activist from Leicester, says the situation has been worsening since May when a young Muslim were attacked.

"They reported it to the police rather than taking things into their own hands," he said. "It's been over three months, three and a half months and police haven't charged anyone."

Since then, he says there have been further incidents, leading to frustration with the police. He says reports that the violence began with the cricket match are wrong.

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe has warned that police and community leaders need to act urgently to put a stop to the violence.

"This has the potential to spread to other areas or spread to other areas of Leicester and has the potential to spread across the country," she said.

Investigation will run for months

Acting Leicestershire Police Chief Constable Rob Nixon said the investigation will run for "several months" until those responsible are identified and brought to justice.

He told Sky News: "I'm very encouraged by the level of support across the leadership in Leicester. The traditional community leaders, partners […] having a really detailed dialogue about some of these tensions, how we've got to where we are, and how we resolve them and take the issues forward."

Leicestershire Police said Amos Noronha, 20, was sentenced to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of an offensive weapon in connection with the violence.

He appeared at Leicester Magistrates' Court on Monday, the force said, adding several of those who had been detained were from outside the city, including some people from Birmingham.

Police officers were diverted from the Queen's funeral to deal with the disorder in the East Midlands city, including from the West Midlands, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire.

Horses from Thames Valley Police were also deployed. 

Reference: Sky News: 

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