A predominantly Muslim area of Leicester, England. Experts say the tangles between mostly Hindu and Muslim men last month were only the latest examples of how toxic politics in India have migrated overseas.Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

LEICESTER, England — In east Leicester, decorations for the Hindu celebration of Diwali hang near a sign advertising a Halal butcher. The fish shop down the road is owned by a Muslim Indian family and staffed almost exclusively by Hindus.

Everywhere, there is evidence of a diverse and sizable South Asian community that has called this central English city home, with people from different communities and countries living side by side for decades.

So it was disturbing to many residents there when crowds of mostly Hindu and Muslim men tangled with one another last month on the city’s streets, a confrontation that devolved into brawls and scuffles with the police. One group made up largely of Hindu men chanted anti-Muslim slurs as it pushed toward a mosque. In retaliation, masked men tore down flags outside a Hindu temple.

And rumor and disinformation, with lots of finger-pointing, swirled on social media, further inflaming the situation.

“For me, genuinely, it was heartbreaking, it was really sad,” said Shockat Adam Patel, a Leicester resident and volunteer with MEND, a charity that fights against Islamophobia. “But it wasn’t shocking, unfortunately, because there have been quite a few incidents of friction growing.”

Experts say it is only the latest example of how the toxic politics that are roiling India — and leading to the persecution of Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities — have migrated to other parts of the globe.

Across the Indian diaspora, ugly divisions are emerging. A bulldozer, which has become a symbol of oppression against India’s Muslim minority, was rolled down a street in a New Jersey town during a parade this summer, offending many people. Last year, attacks on Sikh men in Australia were linked to extremist nationalist ideology. In April, Canadian academics told CBC News that they faced death threats over their criticism of growing Hindu nationalism and violence against minorities in India.

Since India’s independence struggle, Hindu nationalists have espoused a vision that places Hindu culture and religious worship at the center of Indian identity. That view, once fringe, was made mainstream when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party came to power.

This story was originally published in nytimes.com . Read the full story here