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PoliticsWorldIslamic preachers aggravated Leicester riots by Muslims

Islamic preachers aggravated Leicester riots by Muslims

An Islamic preacher allegedly "stirred up hatred" in Leicester amid fears that the violence seen in clashes between Muslims and Hindus in that city could spread to London. Mohammed Hijab, a self-styled  scholar, travelled up to the East Midlands city from London last weekend where he was seen calling some Hindus "pathetic weak, cowardly people" — according to a report in Daily Mail. If Hijab were not enough, there was an Anjem Choudary too (covered later in this report).

The report cites a video posted on his YouTube channel, which has nearly 600,000 subscribers, where Hijab can be seen addressing a crowd of young Muslim men, some of whom are wearing masks. 

This provocation happened in the middle of the attacks on Hindus by Muslims even as the international media, ignoring the Muslim attacks on the whole Christian West, blamed "Hindu nationalism" of the RSS-BJP brand for the hate crime. Daily Mail's articles are no exception to that propaganda. The clashes have so far led to 47 arrests, with eight people charged with crimes including possession of offensive weapons and threats to kill.

Days later, Smethwick in the West Midlands erupted when a group of more than 100 Muslim men protested outside the Hindu Durga Bhawan temple. The gang set off fireworks and abused Hindu worshippers. A ring of police stopped them from storming the temple but acts of like burning a saffron flag of Hindus were captured by several cameras.

The British administration fears that the violence seen in Leicester and Smethwick could spread to London, with reports of a planned demonstration outside a Hindu temple in Wembley today, although by 2 PM, no protest had happened.

The violence in Leicester began last week after an cricket match between India and Pakistan on 28 August. While people in India saw only Muslims damaging Hindu properties in early September, Muslims and the British media are claiming now that, following the Indian victory in the match, groups of young Hindu men walked through the streets chanting "Jai Sri Ram" as they passed Muslim businesses. Muslims also claimed the Hindus were raising the slogan of "Pakistan murdabad" as they passed through Muslim-dominated neighbourhoods.

British newspapers like The Telegraph reported that Muslim men then retaliated, with one man seen climbing onto a temple wall and ripping down a Hindu flag — clearly mixing up one incident with another. The tearing of the saffron flag by a Muslim man actually happened at the end of a march by Hindus in protest against two weeks of attacks by Muslims.

Sixteen police officers were injured as they tried to break up violence between the groups on 18 September, with the force blaming people from outside the city for the escalation. Islamic preacher Hijab is an outsider of sorts too. He is based in London and was seen giving speeches to groups of Muslim men.

In a video posted on social media, Hijab says, "If they [Hindus] believe in reincarnation, what a humiliation for them to be reincarnated into some pathetic, weak, cowardly people like that. I'd rather be reincarnated as a grasshopper, bruv!"

The Islamic preacher goes onto say, "So how come in Leicester, the Hindutva are coming out . . . trying to act like gangsters? Don't ever, I'm saying this directly to all the so-called Hindutva wannabe gangsters, don't ever come out like that again do you understand?"

The Islamic preacher defended the video on Twitter, saying that he was not addressing all members of the religion. He tweeted, "As for the video entitled 'Muslim Response to Fascist Hindutva Thugs' then (as the title suggests) the video and its contents was not intended for Hindus but for Hindutva Thugs. There is no part of the video in which I address Hindus as a whole."

Some Muslims in the city did object, with a few seen on one of his videos telling him to stop, saying, "You're going to incite them, you are only going to make things worse!" The head of a mosque in Smethwick, which witnessed violence on 20 September, accused the Islamic preacher of inflaming tensions. 

Mazahar Mohammad, chair of trustees of Jaia Masjid, Smethwick's largest mosque, told The Telegraph: "We don't need people like Hijab coming to areas like Leicester and Smethwick from London and other places and stirring up hatred. We are a multi-faith community and we have to be careful about people creating tension and hatred where there wasn't any before."

Ashvani Kumar, a trustee of the Durga Bhawan Centre, said, "We don't want people on either side creating problems between the communities. We ask these people to stay away from here and allow us to live side by side in peace."

Meanwhile, a protest was planned outside a temple in Wembley, in north west London today. Police in north-west London said they had been patrolling around places of worship in Brent while local Barry Gardiner has urged Hindus to refrain from trying to "defend" the mandir. In a tweet, the Labour MP wrote, "I've contacted the police about the incitement to demonstrate at a Hindu temple in my constituency tomorrow. Anyone thinking of demonstrating should stay away and recognise that hate crimes carry jail sentences. Hindus should not go to 'defend' the mandir. That is the police job."

On 23 September, Hijab released a statement on his website, saying he had been trying to "de-escalate tensions" by going to the city. "Recently, there have been tensions amongst some members of the Muslim and Hindu communities in Leicester which has resulted in violence, anti-social behaviour and aggression," he said. 

"Last week, I visited Leicester with the objective of advising the Muslim community and to help de-escalate tensions. I am aware that based on the history of similar community tensions, there are going to be internal and external parties that will use the current issue to promote a malicious narrative about minorities and community relations in the UK, with a negative focus on the Muslim community. This adds to the importance of why we must de-escalate any tensions.

"Given my influence in the community, I had two key objectives visiting Leicester. The first was to ensure that no one from the Muslim community breaks the law or manifests signs of extremist behaviour. The second was to remind the community that the law allows the use of reasonable force to defend oneself and vulnerable people. Innocent women were being attacked. My actions and words were recorded and they were said and done in front of the Police.

"My public work is very clear. I do not condone or advocate for any violence and disharmony between any members or groups of the British public. I will continue to work to ensure the harmony and wellbeing for all, including the Hindu and Muslim communities.

"Finally, it must be highlighted that there is growing evidence that sections of the British public have been radicalised by the extremist movement known as Hindutva. Hindutva is a form of fascist, right-wing extremism that advocates for the hegemony of Hindus and Hinduism. 

"This leads to the othering and dehumanising of non-Hindus, which inevitably results in violence. This is exactly what has been happening in India today and this extremist ideology has arrived in our country.

"Unfortunately, some sections of the Hindu community in the UK, in particular Leicester, have adopted this extremist ideology and it has been responsible for community conflict and aggression against non-Hindus, in particular vulnerable Muslim women. The authorities must take this seriously and act in a timely manner," the Islamic preacher wrote, defending his fanaticism.

Another Muslim provocateur

Anjem Choudary, the race-hate cleric responsible for radicalising a generation of young Muslim men, was jailed in 2016 for inviting support for Islamic State. The prohibition on his public speaking, along with restrictions imposed on his use of the internet and mobile phone following his release on licence four years ago, has recently been lifted and he is free to preach again.

This Islamic preacher's current rallying cry, to his thousands of followers on WhatsApp, is disturbing in the circumstances. It’s entitled Leicester: The Islamic Perspective.

It was issued from his home in East London in the wake of repeated clashes between angry mobs of young men. One, involving up to 200 masked protesters last weekend, resulted in riot police being pelted with bottles as they tried to keep the two sides apart.

Anjem Choudary Islamic clericAnjem Choudary, the race-hate cleric responsible for radicalising a generation of young Muslim men, was jailed in 2016 for inviting support for Isis

Choudary is calling for ‘Muslim patrols’ to be organised in Leicester. ‘If anyone attacks you, retaliate,’ he declared, quoting Allah.

This is known as adding fuel to the fire, Choudary’s stock-in-trade, and is precisely the kind of inflammatory rhetoric both the police and faith leaders have warned against and the Leicester Mercury alluded to on its front page.

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Anoop Verma
Anoop Verma


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