Hindu and Muslim community leaders in Leicester call for end to violence and unrest

ITV News Central Correspondent Rajiv Popat reports on the Leicester unrest that escalated over the weekend

Leaders of Leicester's Muslim and Hindu communities have issued a plea for an end to the tensions seen in the city recently.

They gathered on the steps of a city mosque this morning to stress the historic bonds of friendship between the two faiths in the city.

Outside the Jame Mosque, in Asfordby Street, Spinney Hills, they issued a joint statement which called for an immediate end to the 'provocation and violence' which has scarred the city in recent weeks and months.

Meanwhile, earlier today, Leicestershire Police confirmed the past two days have been peaceful after violent scenes on Saturday night.

Community leaders have issued a joint message saying they're 'saddened and heartbroken' to see the violence in Leicester

The full statement, which was read out by Pradyumna Pradipgajjar, of the city's Iskcon Hindu temple, states: "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.

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

"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 together call upon the immediate cessation of provocation and violence - both in thought and behaviour. We together call upon the inciters of hatred to leave our city alone.

At least 47 people have now been arrested following weeks of disturbance and unrest in Leicester, police have confirmed Credit: Leicester Media Online

They added: "We are a strong family, we will work together to resolve whatever concern may arise - we do not need to call up any assistance from outside our city. Leicester has no place for any foreign extremist ideology that causes division.

"Our message to anyone that sows disharmony between us is clear 'we will not let you succeed'. 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.

"As with all families, we will be having honest and uncomfortable conversations in addressing the issues, but we are confident that with our faith in God and, indeed, faith in each other, we will come out of this even stronger. We're One Family."

ITV News Central Correspondent Rajiv Popat who was live at the scene says the situation is 'calmer' as police are now keen to bring those responsible to justice

The city has seen no repeat of the scenes from Saturday and Sunday which led to 47 arrests, with Leicestershire Police confirming on Tuesday there were "no reports of disorder" overnight.

Some of those detained after trouble in the city’s east were from Birmingham, according to the force, which also said 25 of its officers and a police dog were injured.

Amos Noronha, 20, of Illingworth Road, Leicester, was jailed for 10 months after admitting possession of an offensive weapon in connection with the trouble.

Residents in Leicester, famed for its diversity, have been shocked by images of groups of men, mainly masked or hooded and involving members of the Hindu and Muslim communities, in tense confrontations and stand-offs on the city’s streets.

Across the community there have been repeated calls for restraint following the weekend, most recently from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which said “hatred of any kind has no place in our society”.

The collective leadership of many of the main Hindu and Jain temples have also appealed to all “for calm in the city”.

Leicester’s troubles have also taken on an international dimension. The High Commission of India and, on Tuesday, the Pakistan High Commission have both issued statements, condemning violence against the Hindu and Muslim communities, respectively.

On Monday, the MCB also hit out at what it called “the targeting of Muslim communities in Leicester by far-right Hindutva groups”, “mob-attacks on Muslims” and vandalism of homes and businesses “in recent months”.

However, the city’s Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), while urging calm, also called for care in the language used and the dangers in ascribing the trouble to one group or another.

The FMO strongly cautioned against using terms “like Hindutva”, which was “strictly related to this fascist extreme minority” because “such terms can demonise an entire community unfairly”.

Police officers at the scene in Leicester

Police statement

Officers say investigations are ongoing as they collect evidence and anyone with information is urged to come forward.

Temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon said: “This quick charge reflects the hard work the officers have put in, with overwhelming evidence against Noronha. The sentence is reflective of the fact that this was a serious offence and he has ended up with time in prison."

“We saw last night a group of people from other cities come to our city to disrupt and cause harm. We will not stand for this unrest in our city. There is an extensive policing operation ongoing, acting on information and reports of gatherings and offering community reassurance."

“Be reassured: we are working to keep you safe and to arrest and bring to justice those that are causing harm in our communities.”