Leicester: Call for calm after Hindu-Muslim unrest in UK city | Islamophobia News

Neighborhood leaders and native politicians within the British metropolis of Leicester have referred to as for an instantaneous finish to “provocation and violence” after weeks of unrest that was triggered following a cricket match between India and Pakistan late final month.

Leaders of Hindu and Muslim communities gathered on Tuesday morning on the steps of a mosque.

Pradip Gajjar, the president of town’s Iskcon Leicester Hindu temple, learn out a joint assertion saying they had been “saddened and heartbroken to see the eruption of stress and violence”.

“Bodily assaults on harmless people and unwarranted harm to property aren’t a part of a good society and certainly not a part of our faiths,” he added, in keeping with a video posted by the native Leicester Mercury newspaper.

Jonathan Ashworth, an opposition Labour MP in Leicester, condemned “stunning scenes of unacceptable incidents of violence”, in an interview with Occasions Radio.

The politician tweeted on Monday that each one within the metropolis “are united in calling for calm, peace and concord”.

Dozens of individuals have been arrested within the wake of the violence in probably the most multicultural English metropolis that has made headlines in India, Pakistan and the UK.

What precipitated the outbreak of violence?

So what precipitated the outbreak of unprecedented violence in Leicester, the place Hindus and Muslims have lived peacefully for many years?

Violent road clashes between some members of the Hindu and Muslim communities broke out after India beat archrival Pakistan in an Asia Cup match in Dubai on August 28.

After the match, a big crowd went out on Melton Street in Leicester, a few of them waving Indian flags, to have a good time India’s win over its arch foe Pakistan. Some within the crowd appeared to chant “Pakistan Murdabad” (dying to Pakistan), in keeping with movies shared on social media.

Police in Leicester reported a “sequence of incidents” in several elements of town over the next week.

On Saturday evening, a crowd of about 200 Hindu males marched within the metropolis, with some shouting – “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram) – a conflict cry for far-right Hindus in India. Quickly Muslims got here out on the streets resulting in scuffles.

The disturbances continued into Sunday with movies posted on native media displaying giant teams of youths sporting masks and balaclavas combating within the streets.

A Hindu temple was vandalised on the weekend as a bunch of Muslim males protested in response to Saturday’s unplanned march throughout which Muslim residents and store house owners had been intimidated.

Some members of the Asian group within the UK say the unrest might be linked to the rise in Hindu nationalism in India beneath Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Social gathering (BJP), beneath which minorities, significantly Muslims, have confronted growing assaults since 2014, has been actively working among the many diaspora Hindu group.

‘We is not going to tolerate violence’

Police in Leicester mentioned a minimum of 47 folks had been arrested. “The influence this dysfunction is having on our native communities just isn’t acceptable,” Leicestershire police mentioned on Monday.

“We is not going to tolerate violence, dysfunction or intimidation in Leicester and we proceed to name for calm and dialogue. Our police operations and investigations proceed with rigour and at scale.”

Police mentioned these arrested had been males, largely of their teenagers and 20s, and confronted prices equivalent to possession of offensive weapons or firearms, violent dysfunction and making threats to kill.

Police have obtained further powers to cease and search anybody in sure areas and take minors again to their houses. They’ve urged in opposition to “circulating hypothesis on social media”.

The town’s mayor has blamed social media disinformation for the escalation of the violence.

Neighborhood leaders are in shock on the violence in a metropolis identified for its communal amity. Hindus and Muslims kind a large part of town’s inhabitants.

“What we’ve seen on the streets may be very alarming,” Suleman Nagdi of the Federation of Muslim Organisations was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Sanjiv Patel from the Hindu group additionally expressed shock.

“We now have lived in concord within the metropolis for a lot of a long time however over the previous few weeks it’s clear there are issues that have to be mentioned across the desk to get out what persons are sad about,” Patel, who represents Hindu and Jain temples in Leicester, was quoted as saying by the BBC.

‘A balanced view’

Dharmesh Lakhani, one other Hindu group chief, mentioned the desecration of the temple was “unacceptable”.

“I’m actually proud to say on that day, when the flag was eliminated, there was an imam exterior. He mentioned I’m standing exterior the mandir [temple], ensuring nothing occurs,” Lakhani was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

The India Excessive Fee issued an announcement on Monday condemning the “vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu faith”.

“We now have strongly taken up this matter with the UK authorities and have sought speedy motion in opposition to these concerned in these assaults.”

However the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK’s largest umbrella physique for Muslim-led organisations, criticised the Indian Excessive Fee for its selective condemnation.

“While it’s proper that we condemn the desecration of Hindu symbols, you will need to characterize all Indians and likewise condemn the deliberate focusing on, intimidation and situations of assault of Muslims and Sikhs,” Zara Mohammed, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, wrote in a letter to the Indian Excessive Fee.

“There’s a clear hesitancy to name out these teams who’ve instigated this thuggery and their political ideology; which they appear to be trying to import from India.

“British Indian communities count on a balanced view from the Indian Excessive Fee, which represents the entire diaspora, which may also help heal divisions domestically.”

‘Shattering the palace’: Young women take up Thailand reform call | Protests News

Bangkok, Thailand – Tawan Tuatulanon glanced out of her automobile’s rear window and seen that state safety forces had been following dangerously shut. She started recording a Fb reside video on her telephone as she and her fellow monarchy reform activists mentioned how they could evade the risk.

“The police are following us once more,” 20-year-old Tawan informed her reside viewers on Fb final month. “This isn’t okay,” she murmured because the automobile raced down a freeway within the capital Bangkok.

Minutes earlier, the workforce of activists had been concerned in a small scuffle at a protest the place demonstrators had been brazenly criticising the royal household close to a royal motorcade. Three underage demonstrators had been arrested, together with a 13-year-old. Throughout the tried arrest, Tawan was hit within the eye by police and bruised her wrist and arm as she tried to guard the protesting youngsters.

Already accustomed to the virtually fixed surveillance from intelligence officers, plainclothes police had been now in pursuit of her workforce. The group pulled off the expressway and drove right into a residential space. They then determined to get out of their automobile and confront the obvious undercover officers.

“Why are you following us? Why don’t you come out and discuss to us nose to nose?” Tawan barked on the police who hid inside their massive black truck, and as a crowd of onlookers gathered. Ultimately, the officers left.

Days after the incident on April 19, Tawan was arrested for allegedly violating her bail situations in an ongoing royal defamation case associated to a public ballot she organised in February that questioned the Thai monarchy. Criticising the king, or ‘lese-majeste‘, is an offence punishable with as much as 15 years in jail. Royal defamation underneath the Thai legal code is known as Part 112, or as the general public calls it merely “112.”

Altering techniques

Tawan is a part of the underground anti-monarchy group, Thaluwang, a reputation that interprets to ‘Shattering the Palace’.

It’s made up largely of younger folks of their 20s, utilizing efficiency artwork, provocative stunts and different uncommon techniques to query the king’s immense maintain on energy, actions that had been taboo till solely a few years in the past.

A portrait of Maynu with pink hair and wearing a black face mask
Maynu needed to be a sport developer however joined  Thaluwang as a result of she thinks Thailand must be reformed to provide younger folks the alternatives they crave [Maynu via Facebook]

Additionally within the group is 18-year-old Supitcha ‘Maynu’ Chailom.

Maynu caught the nation’s consideration when she was photographed elevating the three-finger salute in entrance of a whole lot of college college students in an emblem of defiance taken from the Starvation Video games film that has since come to outline opposition to authoritarian regimes throughout Southeast Asia.

Now one of many distinguished faces of a motion that wishes to modernise the nation, it was the group’s deal with intersectionality and gender equality that originally appealed to her.

“Thaluwang additionally helps gender equality and ladies’s rights, so that is one purpose why I grew to become concerned within the organisation,” Maynu informed Al Jazeera. Earlier than becoming a member of the anti-government motion, Maynu had goals of turning into a online game developer and designer. However now she says there are extra necessary issues to do.

“This nation lacks area for younger folks’s goals, video games are nonetheless demonised within the press and blamed for a lot of points with out taking a look at how mother and father elevate their youngsters and the way this nation doesn’t assist younger folks,” Maynu mentioned. “So all of this mixed has contributed to the place we at the moment are, and some problematic establishments are nonetheless holding again Thailand, and they’re highly effective and scary to confront.”

Thaluwang has moved away from mass protests and speeches delivered to massive crowds, as a substitute adopting techniques that authorized specialists say are tough to outline as unlawful. The method is meant to make activists much less susceptible to authorized harassment, however the crackdown has continued.

“We now have noticed that Thai authorities have elevated undue restrictions on the correct to protest,” Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty Worldwide’s deputy regional director, informed Al Jazeera. “Throughout the previous couple of months, authorities have charged, detained and imprisoned activists, together with youngsters, denying them their proper to bail or imposing harsh bail restrictions on them. Activists have reported surveillance and harassment.”

Confronted with a lese-majeste cost – the most recent in a protracted line of monarchy reform activists who’ve come underneath authorized strain – Tawan informed Al Jazeera that she will not be afraid.

“Particularly relating to 112, my case actually highlights how problematic the regulation is in Thailand,” she mentioned. “Many individuals see us as younger people who find themselves simply expressing our opinions. So I don’t see how doing this by definition is an insult to the monarchy. And whether it is, then this may make folks perceive that this regulation must be abolished much more.”

Thaluwang runs a questionnaire on the street in Bangkok, asking passers-by to show their opinion
Thaluwang has turned away from conventional avenue protests to attempt different methods of getting its message throughout [Ginger Cat/Al Jazeera]

Colonel Kissana Phathanacharoen, deputy police spokesperson, informed Al Jazeera that authorities are merely upholding the regulation.

“We had been finishing up arrest warrants as they had been needed for violating critical legal guidelines,” mentioned Kissana, referring to the arrest of Thaluwang activists in late April.

“We respect their rights as said by the structure. We’re dedicated to defending the folks and imagine in human rights. However should you violate the regulation, we’ve no alternative however to implement the regulation by our authorized means.”

Years of resistance

For the previous two years, protesters have been calling for former coup chief and now Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to step down, and for brand new elections to be held. However it’s their requires royal reform which have despatched shockwaves by way of the nation.

Calling for public scrutiny of the Thai king broke longstanding taboos surrounding the monarchy in 2020, and mass protests sparked heated public debate over the position of the royal palace within the nation’s politics.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne in 2016, is commonly criticised for his lavish life-style with estimates of his wealth beginning at about $30bn. However critics say he’s additionally bringing again absolute monarchy and controls the nation’s military-backed leaders, a system {that a} new era of Thais argues should be reformed for the nation to maneuver ahead.

For years, researchers have documented intimidation and surveillance of presidency critics at house, within the office and on college campuses.

However even with the democracy motion’s most important leaders arrested, rights teams say the authorities have carried out surveillance, authorized harassment and arrests of critics at an unprecedented stage.

In interviews with greater than 12 Thai activists over the previous six months, Al Jazeera has documented allegations of surveillance and harassment, with some even talking of bodily torture or assault for demonstrating.

“Other than utilizing authorized means to harass activists, the state authorities additionally harass residents who merely publish their opinions on Fb,” mentioned Wannaphat Jenroumjit, a lawyer for Thai Legal professionals for Human Rights (TLHR) who works instantly on ‘112’ circumstances in relation to activists calling for royal reform.

“They [the police] achieve this by following them or approaching them instantly, or intimidating their household, or neighbours, telling them they’re on the police watch listing. However this sows suspicion among the many neighborhood towards them.”

Tawan, in a black t-short with red print gives the three-fingered Hunger Games salute which has become a symbol of resistance in Asia
Tawan makes the three-fingered Starvation Video games salute, which has develop into an emblem of resistance amongst pro-democracy teams from Myanmar to Hong Kong [Ginger Cat/Al Jazeera]

Tawan and Maynu each say they’ve skilled intimidation.

Maynu has been adopted by safety forces and was verbally abused when she spent a day in detention.

Tawan says she has been pursued by police on quite a few events. On one event, she informed Al Jazeera, 10 officers entered her house and tried to persuade her mother and father to drive her to cease. One other day, two males on bikes virtually ran her off the highway, she claimed.

‘Prices for society’

In line with THLR, not less than 1,787 folks have been prosecuted for collaborating within the Thai protests from 2020 to 2022. The group has documented not less than 173 circumstances the place folks had been charged with royal defamation over the identical interval.

Pikhaneth Prawang, one other lawyer for TLHR, warns the method may have broader implications for the nation.

“Because the resumption of using ‘112’ on the finish of 2020, the variety of circumstances rose sharply,” Pikhaneth mentioned.

“We’re seeing it used not solely to focus on leaders, however now we’re seeing frequent folks focused as effectively. We’re apprehensive about how far this might go. Such a marketing campaign may result in excessive prices for society.”

Such prices may embrace a system the place public belief is undermined, notably within the judicial system. A continued erosion of belief may,  Pikhaneth fears, “result in chaos sooner or later.”

Days after talking to Al Jazeera in April, a number of Thaluwang activists had been arrested.

Maynu has been launched on bail, however Tawan continues to be in detention and on starvation strike.

Over the past two weeks, three different ladies who signify Thaluwang have additionally been detained with out bail, together with a 17-year-old woman. In response, dozens of protesters demonstrated in entrance of america embassy on Could 11, handing in a petition calling on the US to induce Thailand to launch political prisoners and cease using 112.

Earlier than she was arrested, Tawan informed Al Jazeera that regardless of the strain, she wouldn’t be deterred.

“We now have been adopted by police and it makes us really feel unsafe,” Tawan mentioned. “However with Part 112, I’m nonetheless not afraid. If something, it makes me really feel that I have to struggle much more, and I’ve mentally ready myself to quickly be in jail. So you might positively say that I’m a really completely different Tawan than I used to be earlier than.”