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Bishop calls for ‘healthy disagreement’ after Leicester unrest

22 September 2022

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The city of Leicester

The city of Leicester

“HEALTHY disagreement” makes for peaceful communities, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, has said in response to unrest between Muslim and Hindu groups in the city over the weekend.

Police were reportedly diverted from the state funeral preparations to deal with a series of scuffles which broke out between crowds, mainly of young men, in the east of Leicester on Saturday night. Similar disturbances have been reported in the weeks since a cricket match was held in the city between India and Pakistan on 28 August; 47 people have been arrested since the match.

Police reported that 25 officers and a police dog were injured in the latest clashes on Saturday and Sunday, which resulted in several arrests, including for common assault and violent disorder. On Monday, a man, Amos Noronha, aged 20, of Illingworth Road, was sentenced in Leicester Magistrate’s Court to ten months in prison, after pleading guilty to possession of an offensive weapon. He had been arrested on Saturday night.

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Bishop Snow called for calm. “During this period of national mourning, I have held off commenting on the worrying events which have taken place in Leicester. This is a city that has always prided itself in strong community relations.

“We do not always see eye-to-eye, but have always found productive ways of handling our disagreements. We are united in our desire for there to be peace in our city, and for everyone to feel safe and be able to go about their lawful business.

“We appeal for calm and commit ourselves to continue supporting healthy disagreement, being good neighbours to those who have different opinions in order to maintain the peaceful communities we have long been proud of in this city.”

Also on Sunday, the Co-Chairs and Moderators of the Faith Communities Forum of the Inter Faith Network for the UK released a statement noting “with concern” the disturbances. Faith leaders had been working with police, the Leicester Council of Faiths, and the local authority “to tackle tensions, address misunderstandings and misinformation, and to restore and strengthen the good relations for which the City is more widely known”, it said.

Nationality had been a focus of some of the disturbances, the statement explained; however, “there are dimensions of the present and prior disturbances and tensions in Leicester which are — or have become — linked by some to Hindu and Muslim communities and that there are related concerns about safety on the streets of individuals of those faiths and of their places of worship. . .

“We affirm the vital efforts of all those working in Leicester and in other areas of the UK to tackle tensions where these arise, and to develop greater understanding and stronger inter faith and inter community relations and we call for the necessary resources to be made available to support this work.”

By Monday, the streets of Leicester were quiet again, and no new incidents have since been reported.

Read Paul Vallely’s column on the situation in Leicester here

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