The Masjid Umar Mosque in Leicester, Britain, is pictured in August 2010 (Wikimedia Commons)

By Ismail Patel / Middle East Eye

In recent months, the British city of Leicester has witnessed extremist Hindutva chanting and racist attacks against members of the Muslim community. This past Saturday, around 200 masked Hindutva men again took to the streets, even after police earlier this month were authorised to exercise dispersal and stop-and-search powers.

Leicester is home to tens of thousands of Muslims and Hindus, many of whom trace their origins to Africa, mainly Uganda, Kenya and Malawi. This common heritage has fostered respect between Muslims and Hindus in the city, allowing Leicester to become a model of multiculturalism.

For me, someone who has lived in Leicester for more than 40 years, the terror on the streets today does not stem from the vast majority of Hindu residents. Thousands of Muslims play, attend school and carry out daily engagements with Hindus. I was fortunate enough to have once had a business partnership with a Hindu, and like many others who provide public services, I am in daily contact with my fellow Hindu residents.

With such close ties between the two communities, it is not uncommon to know a Muslim in Leicester who has a Hindu friend. Admittedly, there have been instances of disagreement – but these rarely last beyond a few days, and they do not lead to physical attacks.

Today, however, several domestic and international factors have empowered the far-right Hindutva movement.

This movement is part of an Indian nationalist, neo-fascist faction that believes in the superiority of the Hindu people. Outside of India, the ethos of RSS is promoted by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), which is estimated to have links to 150 countries, including many branches in the UK.

The UK wing of HSS was in 2015 investigated by the Charity Commission after one of its teachers was shown saying, “the number of good Muslims can be counted on one finger”, and that “to destroy Hindu history is the secret conspiracy of the Christians”.

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