The governments of India and Pakistan demanded immediate action from the British authorities to deal with ongoing disorder between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester.
A series of increasingly violent clashes between the youths of the two communities has recently resulted in the injury of 25 police officers and the arrest of 47 people.
The trouble first flared up after a T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan played in Dubai on August 28.
But locals claim the tension has been simmering for months, fueled by inflammatory rhetoric coming out of the subcontinent.
Members of the Muslim community in Leicester claim that British-based Hindu nationalists – who support India’s prime minister Narendra Modi – are stoking tensions by marching through their areas chanting racist slogans.
But Hindus in the city have blamed a Muslim outsider who they claim traveled to Leicester from other cities, including Bradford and Birmingham, to stir up trouble.
Videos posted on social media further fueled tensions, with unwarranted reports of attacks on local mosques and temples.
The violence, which broke out on Saturday night, was front-page news in pro-Hindu nationalist newspapers in India.
Police and community leaders in Leicester are appealing for calm, but there are fears Tuesday’s interventions from Delhi and Islamabad could fuel fragile relations.
‘We will not stand for this unrest’
In a statement, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said: “We strongly condemn the violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and the vandalism of buildings and symbols of the Hindu faith.
“We have taken this matter up strongly with the UK authorities and sought immediate action against those involved in these attacks. We ask the authorities to protect those affected.”
But the High Commission of Pakistan in London also issued a statement which claimed that the Muslim community in Leicester was against Islamophobia.
The statement said: “We strongly condemn the campaign of violence and intimidation unleashed against Muslims in the area. This is not the first time such Islamophobic incidents have been reported in Leicester.”
The High Commission later said it trusted the UK authorities to deal with those responsible and called on all communities to “stop actions that disturb religious sentiments and undermine the harmony of society”. .
Jonathan Ashworth, Labor MP for Leicester South, described the troubles as a “dark episode” in a city known for its diversity.
He said: “Efforts to divide including people with extremist views will fail and have been roundly condemned across Leicester.
“We absolutely condemn violent incidents on our streets; marches with inflammatory slogans that incite hatred; attacks on places of worship, symbols or religion.”
Rob Nixon, Leicestershire’s temporary chief constable, criticized the involvement of people from outside the city in the weekend’s violence.
He said: “We will not stand for this unrest in our city. An extensive police operation is underway, acting on information and reports of meetings and offering community reassurance.
“Rest assured – we are working to keep you safe and to arrest and bring to justice those who are causing harm in our communities.”