Protest planned outside Hindu temple in Smethwick

The call for the protest comes after unrest in Leicester between people from Hindu and Muslim faith groups

Community leaders in Smethwick have united against a planned protest outside a Hindu temple.

Information about the protest outside the Durga Bhawan temple on Spon Lane was shared on social media. A flyer was shared on social media by an account called Apna Muslims calling for a peaceful protest on Tuesday 20 September.

But both Hindu and Muslim fath groups in West Midlands have spoke out against the protest. They want harmony to be maintained in the neighbourhood and have discouraged people from taking part in the protest.

The call for the protest comes after unrest in Leicester between people from Hindu and Muslim faith groups. More than two dozen police officers and a police dog were injured as a result of the disorder on Saturday night between the two communities. It also lead to 47 arrests, according to BBC.

Durga Bhawan

Faith leaders believe a Leicester-like situation is being planned in Smethwick - where minority ethnic groups make up 62.1% of the population, according to the Office of National Statistics.

A priest at the Hindu temple, Durga Bhawan said the police have been informed.

The priest said: “We are pleasant people and false allegations have been spread. People from all communities come to our temple. It’s a plot to create some situation. We have no issues here.”

A member of the temple committee, Mr. Upasakk, said: “We have informed the police. We were told about the protest by the Chair of the Imam group in Sandwell. People are trying to create a situation like Leicester here. There have never been any issues here between communities so far and we are not a BJP/RSS centre.”

The protestors were opposed to a speaker’s visit to the temple. The speaker, a Hindu-leader, is considered controversial for spreading hate speech against other communities. Her session has been cancelled.

Mr. Ragih Muflihi, the chair of the Imam group and of the multifaith group in Sandwell, shared that all faith leaders, including Sikh and Christian, will be outside the temple to diffuse any situation that can crop up if protestors do aturn up. He also shared on his Twitter account that the protest was cancelled.

They are also going to share video messages with the rest of the community today to keep harmony in the area.

What the West Midlands police said

“We’re aware of a planned protest in West Bromwich later today (20 September). We understand this is in relation to concerns around a speaker at the Temple in Spon Lane, but we’re informed the event has been cancelled and this person is not staying in the UK.

“We’re continuing to work – and liaise with - partners and faith groups on the basis the protest is still going ahead and we’ll have suitable resources available to respond accordingly.

“We always seek to find the right balance between the rights of protestors and those of local residents and businesses, while working to minimise serious disruption to communities.

“We have a long history of facilitating peaceful protest, and upholding the right to protest, while balancing it with the rights of others to keep the public safe, prevent crime and disorder,” a police spokesperson said.

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