A UK-based trans-Atlantic foreign policy and security think tank released new in-depth research into the Hindu-Muslim violence that erupted in Leicester over the past few months, which concludes that false allegations of “Hindutva extremist organisations” active in the UK has put the country's Hindu community at risk from hate, assault and vandalism.
Henry Jackson Society’s (HJS) ‘Hindu-Muslim civil unrest in Leicester: “Hindutva” and the creation of a false narrative’, authored by Research Fellow Charlotte Littlewood, unearthed a misinformation campaign accusing sections of the British Hindu community and a number of Hindu temples of having connections to Indian political organisation RSS or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. A close review of the relevant police incident reports and interviews with those who organised the Hindu march and were accused of being “RSS terrorists” do not appear to show any clear or demonstrable links with known terrorist organisations, the research concludes.
Key Points: Misinformation Campaign and Influencers
Influencers, one who has been convicted on terrorism charges, one who praised the suspected mastermind of the Bombay bombings and one who has offered prayers to the Taliban and was reported to have offered prayers to the brothers of an ISIL fighter, have inflamed community tensions spreading fake news.
Evidence of a Hindu nationalist presence in the UK is tenuous. Some organisations have been accused of links to RSS and RSS linked individuals have visited the UK, this is problematic for community relations and requires further investigation.
Accusations of RSS terrorists lead to a number of Hindu youth to temporarily relocate for their safety. There has never been a Hindu extremist terrorist attack in the UK and the youth in question had no affiliation to RSS.
Mainstream media outlets have relied on two of the noted influencers who have been providing misinformation. In the immediate aftermath of the protests mainstream media outlets put early emphasis on Hindutva extremism in the UK, further perpetuating the threat against the Hindu community.
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According to interviews conducted by the author of the report, some members of the Hindu community in Leicester are imposing a voluntary curfew, some have relocated to stay with family or friends until they feel safe to return, some were unable to return to work owing to fears for their personal safety in the wake of the unrest in Leicester.
Among its recommendations, the HJS report calls for an independent adviser to ensure there is a workstream that involves understanding the harm anti-Hindu hate is causing local communities and provide better support for victims, local authorities, and civil society to counter anti-Hindu hate.
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This will include supporting local authorities and their employees in their understanding of anti-Hindu hate, HJS said.