A bout of sectarian violence between the Muslim and Hindu communities in Leicestershire has seen police granted special powers to confront unrest sweeping the area.
Spates of violence between gangs of youths have broken out across the multicultural city of Leicester after it hosted the India vs Pakistan cricket match on August 28th.
In response to the clashes between Hindu and Muslim men, Leicestershire Police announced that they would be using special powers to stop and search anyone in the city without the need for reasonable grounds to do so as a precautionary measure.
A dispersal order was also put in place from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning, with police being allowed to order anyone under the age of 16 to return to their homes. According to a report from the BBC, a total of 131 people were stopped and searched and 18 were told to disperse.
So far police have arrested only four people in connection with the outbreak of sectarian violence in the city:
- A 19-year-old man from Leicester was arrested on suspicion of possession of a conducted energy device (CED)
- A 24-year-old man from Leicester was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon
- A 17-year-old man of no fixed abode was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon
- A 25-year-old man from Leicester was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving
Footage shared on social media showed gangs of youths brawling with each other. One man remains in hospital after an assault, and another three, including a man who was stabbed in the hand, suffered injuries, though none are believed to be life-threatening.
According to the local Leicestershire Mercury newspaper, one officer was apparently assaulted last week by a member of the crowd, before being subdued by other officers who rushed in to help.
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The police have called for calm from the two communities while they seek to arrest those involved in the violence, asking people not to take matters into their own hands.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Adam Streets said on Wednesday: “Now is the time for calm,” adding: “We’ve got a really proud history of being one of the most diverse cities in the country and strong community cohesion. What I don’t want to see is an escalation of these events that seek to undermine that.”
“I’d like to reassure people that we’ve got dedicated detectives looking into these incidents and we will seek to bring offenders to justice,” he said, suggesting that people should be “under no illusion” that more arrests will be coming.
Community and faith leaders also called for an end to the violence. The Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) said in a statement on Tuesday: “We understand many people, particularly our youth are very angry about recent events and the perceived lack of action, but please do not take matters into your own hands or take out your anger on innocent people or the police.”
The Council of Faiths (LCOF) warned that videos on social media were “painting a negative picture of Leicester” and being used to “divide our communities”.
“It is critical that we do not allow the actions of a minority group of people to cause disruption or disunity,” they added.
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