Calls for calm after cricket match sparks unrest in English city

LONDON: Community leaders and local politicians appealed for calm on Tuesday after a cricket match between India and Pakistan prompted weeks of unrest in the multicultural English city of Leicester.
Violent street clashes between members of the Hindu and Muslim communities broke out after India beat arch-rival Pakistan in an Asia Cup match in Dubai on August 28.
The violence has made headlines in India and Pakistan as well as the UK, and dozens have been arrested.
Videos posted on local media showed large groups of youths wearing masks and balaclavas fighting in the streets and chanting slogans.
Jonathan Ashworth, an opposition Labour MP in Leicester, condemned “shocking scenes of unacceptable incidents of violence,” in an interview with Times Radio.
The politician tweeted on Monday that all in the city “are united in calling for calm, peace and harmony.”
Leaders of Hindu and Muslim communities gathered on Tuesday morning on the steps of a mosque.
Pradip Gajjar, the president of the city’s Iskcon Leicester Hindu temple, read out a joint statement saying they were “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,” he added, according to a video posted by the local Leicester Mercury newspaper.
The communities called for an immediate end to “provocation and violence.”
The Leicester Mercury stressed that “the issues behind the unrest… are far more complex than just a cricket match.”
Police said on Monday that 47 people had been arrested in relation to the unrest, which began the night of August 28 and continued this month.
“The impact this disorder is having on our local communities is not acceptable,” Leicestershire Police said on Monday.
“We will not tolerate violence, disorder or intimidation in Leicester and we continue to call for calm and dialogue.
“Our police operations and investigations continue with rigour and at scale.”
Police said those arrested were men, mostly in their teens and 20s, and faced charges such as possession of offensive weapons or firearms, violent disorder and making threats to kill.
Police have obtained extra powers to stop and search anyone in certain areas and take minors back to their homes. They have urged against “circulating speculation on social media.”
A 20-year-old local man has been jailed for 10 months for possession of an offensive weapon.

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