Leicester Riots and the Unravelling of Multiculturalism and Scapegoating of Hindutva

The city of Leicester has been on the edge for quite some time now. If you would remember, India and Pakistan played an Asia Cup match against each other on August 28. India won the match and what followed was clashes between the Hindu and Muslim communities in Leicester. Since then, there has been a series of violent incidents between the two communities.

Both sides have blamed each other for the recurring incidents of violence. It is pretty clear that there was an undercurrent of tensions between the two communities that led to the violence and it is quite improbable that only a cricket match would have got the city on the edge. It is quite likely that the match was just a trigger or an excuse. It is indeed quite unfortunate that the shadows of Hindu-Muslim violence are now being seen in a city in the United Kingdom. However, there is a bigger issue at play — the unraveling of multiculturalism and the scapegoating of Hindutva.

Leicester and multiculturalism

It is quite ironic that until the violent clashes between the Hindu and Muslim communities, Leicester used to be praised by the left-liberal world as a hub of multiculturalism. The city has an equal population of Hindus and Muslims at 7 percent each.

Leicester’s make-believe multiculturalism however goes further. In 2011 Census, it emerged as the first city in the UK with a non-White majority. The city boasts of around 70 spoken languages and 14 different faiths. The left-liberal circles and the pro-immigration lobby have even celebrated it as a symbol of this ideology. It became a part of the UK’s national history celebrations in 2021, and Leicester’s Narborough Road got named as the most diverse street in 2016.

Leicester was actually flaunted as an example of how multiculturalism can work. Newspaper reports and academic publications often projected it as an ideal city full of diversity. So, given the image building, no one could have really expected that Leicester would witness a spate of violence between two non-White communities.

The unravelling of multiculturalism

If people with affinity to different religions and perhaps different countries are fighting with each other, then it clearly denounces the image of Leicester as an ideal, multicultural city. It shows that those fighting out with each other in the streets of Leicester do not identify themselves as British, but as belonging to two different cultures. When a cultural conflict with deep-rooted prejudice creeps in, they end up committing violence towards each other.

It doesn’t mean that migration of different communities from diverse parts of the world to Leicester is to be blamed. It also doesn’t mean that diversity is a bad thing. Nor does it mean that any one particular community is to blame for how violence unfolded in Leicester. The root of the problem is with the unravelling of multiculturalism as an ideology. When multiculturalism was invoked by the left-liberal ecosystem, it implicitly compromised on the idea of a common culture and a strong national identity. What took its place was the idea of different communities living together, but every one of them continuing to live in its own distinct culture. So, you have different communities who have nothing in common except their present geography.

The lobby that pushed multiculturalism probably believed that the idea of a common national identity is somewhat outdated and experimented with different communities following their own cultures. This ideology has however unraveled in a catastrophic way.

Also, it isn’t the first time that a multicultural Britain has faced such inter-cultural violence. We already know of the Oldham riots of 2001 and the grooming-gang scandals that rocked the United Kingdom. However,

Scapegoating Hindutva

What happened in Leicester was that a Left-liberal experiment failed spectacularly. Yet, more worrisome is the Hindu-hating and India-bashing propaganda that got unleashed after Leicester violence.

Media reports, within and outside India, have tried to squarely pin the blame for violence on Hindutva and ‘Hindu nationalist views’. Strangely, the left-liberal ecosystem seems to be demanding that ‘far right’ Hindus be held responsible for the Leicester violence without accepting that whatever happened in Leicester was an act of violence between two different communities.

And then, there have also been attempts to blame the ‘newly arrived Indians’ for Leicester violence. The flimsy argument is that right-wing Hindutva is on the rise and therefore societal balance is getting disturbed in Leicester with the arrival of present-day Indians. This argument is, of course, at odds with the same pro-migration lobby that also celebrates Leicester as a hub of multiculturalism. How can they blame ‘newly arrived migrants’ for violence that reeks of a blatantly parochial mindset? Yet, they understand that Indian heritage and the Hindu community is the soft target. If they want to hide how multiculturalism is unravelling, they can conveniently blame Indian Hindus in Leicester regardless of the actual facts and circumstances.

At the end of the day, blaming Hindus is always the easy way out. Who is going to speak for them, after all? In any case, the global Left has institutionalised Hindu-hate through years of propaganda. It seems that Hinduphobia is going to become a weapon of choice for saving Leicester’s multicultural image. But the argument is rather flimsy and the violence in Leicester really exposes the faultlines in a multicultural Britain.

Akshay Narang is a columnist who writes on national and international affairs. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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