United Kingdom Labour Party chief Keir Starmer on Wednesday said that “Hinduphobia has absolutely no place in our society” and urged everyone to fight it together, PTI reported.
His made the comments while addressing a Navratri celebration in London following clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester last month. An India-Pakistan T20 cricket match on August 28 is believed to have triggered the unrest.
While diaspora organisations in the UK claim that the disorder reflects Hinduphobia, or hate crimes targeting Hindus, Leicestershire Police’s temporary chief constable Rob Nixon told the BBC on September 20 that misinformation on social media had played a “huge role” in contributing to the tensions in the city.
Experts told Thomson Reuters Foundation that most of the incendiary tweets, rumours and lies originated from India. The top hashtags used by accounts from India said #HindusUnderattackinUK and #HindusUnderAttack, a BBC investigation showed.
The city’s mayor, Peter Soulsby, had also attributed the recent events to social media disinformation. Moreover, almost of those arrested in connection with the violence came from outside the county, The Guardian reported.
On Wednesday, Starmer told hundreds of British Indians that he was determined to put an end to “divisive politics” and extremist elements who are exploiting social media to spread hatred among communities.
“I know that many people are targeted based on their religion and there’s been a rise in hate crimes in recent years,” the Opposition Labour leader added. “I’m so tired of our divisive politics. I’m saddened by the division we have seen on the streets of Leicester and Birmingham in recent weeks...We must all together stand firm against all attempts to spread hate.”
The violence in Leicester had raised concerns with one of the city’s MP warning that it could spread beyond this area.
Videos on social media showed a man pulling down a flag outside a Hindu temple in Leicester, exacerbating the tensions.
On September 19, the Indian High Commission in London had sought immediate action against those involved in the unrest.
However, while criticising the violence, the High Commission only mentioned the “vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion”, even though videos on social media showed that the Muslim community had also been attacked.
Days later, the Muslim Council of Britain had criticised the Indian High Commission in London for speaking only about the attacks on Hindus in Leicester.
“British Indian communities expect a balanced view from the Indian High Commission, which represents all of the diaspora, which can help heal divisions locally,” the body had said in a statement.