A fact-finding report by an India-based think tank into the violent clashes between groups of men on the last year was released in the House of Commons committee room recently.
The Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights (CDPHR) found that the attackers attempted to undermine the fundamental principles of democracy and pluralism, including freedom of expression by spreading misinformation. The attack also targeted individuals based on their religious beliefs and affiliations, particularly the practitioners of Hinduism, in clear violation of human rights.
, of the ATMAH non-profit organisation and one of the co-authors of the report, said: “What we found was that different religious groups in east Leicester, ground zero of the unrest, are living in ethnic enclaves – with some ethnicities clubbed up in some spaces more than others.
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“This phenomenon is not common in the United Kingdom but we found it continues to happen in Leicester because of the spillover effect involving migrants from countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh.”
In ‘Fact-finding report on Leicester Violence 2022 – The rise of territorial majoritarianism and Hinduphobia’, Samant and co-author Chris Blackburn call for immediate action to address the underlying issues that led to the Leicester violence such as the rise of extremism and hate speech targeting Britain’s Hindu community.
At the launch last week, highlighted “fake news” spread on social media as a major factor behind the escalation of the clashes.
Blackman, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Hindus, said: “Lessons must be learnt. There was a false narrative being spread to create divisions within the communities. In Leicester, people of all religions have lived alongside each other for many, many years.”
The report also laid out a series of recommendations for the stakeholders, including the government, law enforcement agencies, civil society, and the media, to address the root causes behind the clashes and to prevent their future recurrence.
To tackle the spread of on social media platforms
Promoting media literacy: People should be educated on how to differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources of information. They should also be taught how to factcheck information before sharing it on social media.
Corroborative approach: Social media platforms, governments, and civil society organisations can collaborate to develop and implement measures to tackle the spread of misinformation on . This can include joint awareness-raising campaigns and initiatives to improve media literacy.
To tackle biased media reporting
Hold media outlets accountable: Establish mechanisms for holding media outlets accountable for biased reporting, such as public complaints systems or independent ombudsman.
Foster independent media: Support independent media outlets that prioritise factual and unbiased reporting, and provide resources to help them grow and reach a wider audience.
Implement regulations: Develop and enforce regulations that promote fair and impartial reporting, including guidelines for reporting on sensitive topics.
Promote transparency: Encourage media outlets to disclose their ownership, funding sources, and any conflicts of interest that may influence their reporting.
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To curtail sentiments of majoritarianism and transnational political externalities
Encourage civil society engagement: Promote the involvement of civil society organisations in promoting pluralism and , and provide them with the resources they need to be effective.
Educate the public: Educate the public on the dangers of majoritarianism, and promote democratic values such as tolerance, respect, and dialogue.
To curtail growing and secure the vulnerable mico-minorities
Combat hate speech and discrimination: Develop and enforce laws that prohibit hate speech and discrimination against Hindus, and provide legal recourse for victims.
Adoption of definition of Hinduphobia: Government agencies and law-enforcement additionally need to adopt definitions of Hinduphobia to readily understand and support the community in fighting tensions as a result of the same.