Asian women in Leicester are “living in fear” as Muslims and Hindus have come together to call for unity after weeks of violence that has “torn apart our community”.
The disorder, which has been spreading across the country since August, has seen groups of young men clashing and police have arrested 47 people.
Now, a group of south Asian women of Muslim and Hindu faith in the east Midlands city have issued a joint statement, which was read by Rita Patel, a local councillor.
Leicester, united as one ✊
The official statement from the Women of Leicester below 👇
An incredible turnout and solidarity with my sisters from all communities.
The work to find solutions will continue with women’s voices being heard #womenofleicester pic.twitter.com/cBPy98geW6
— Rita Patel (@rita_leicester) September 24, 2022
She said: “We, as Asian women from Leicester, call upon the people of this city to rally together and oppose the senseless violence that has torn apart our community over the last week. We condemn those perpetrating hate and violence in our city - you will not succeed in dividing us.
“As your grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and friends we have come together in collective solidarity to say no to the senseless violence that has plagued our great city in recent weeks and left many people injured. As a result, whole neighbourhoods and entire families, particularly women, children and elders and now living in fear.
“Our thoughts go out to all those injured as a result of this violence, including community workers and police officers. Leicester is a great place to live and work - and such hate-filled violence threatens to tarnish our city that has been and remains a model of peace and tolerance.
“This has been built on the extraordinary hard work of many including countless community organisations, faith groups and other agencies on the ground. We now call upon the people of Leicester to reject and challenge all that is intent on dividing and polarising our communities.
“It is now time for solutions. We, therefore, ask the women of Leicester to join us in taking action and bringing out communities together once again. As strong proud Asian women, we know that when Leicester is united, it can never be defeated. Leicester, united as one.”
Some linked the sectarian violence to a “country-based dispute” after Pakistan beat India in a cricket match in Dubai on Aug 28, while others have claimed that online disinformation spread across social media has triggered the clashes.
However, the widespread disorder - involving mainly young men from sections of the Muslim and Hindu communities - has since spread west across the Midlands region, from Leicester to the industrial town of Smethwick. Faith and community leaders have since issued a warning that “this will spread all over Britain”.
It emerged this weekend that men had been travelling to Leicester from across the country to take part in the clashes.
Video footage from fighting last week showed bottles being thrown, and Rob Nixon, Leicestershire Police’s acting Chief Constable, said his officers were confronted by more than 300 people.
The Telegraph revealed on the weekend an Islamist preacher who was involved in anti-Jewish demonstrations in London has been accused of “stirring up hatred” in Leicester, where attacks on Hindu temples and shops led to dozens of arrests.