Hindu temple protest: Birmingham man arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred

The man handed himself in to officers this morning (23 September) as concerns are raised that further protests could be held in Coventry and Sandwell

A 37-year-old man from Birmingham was arrested on suspicion of publishing material with intent to incite religious hatred. West Midlands Police had been searching for him following the publication of a social media video earlier this week where it was alleged that threats were made and derogatory language used.

The man handed himself in to officers this morning (23 September) and will be questioned in due course, police said. His arrest follows a protest held outside Durga Bhawan Hindu temple in Smethwick on Tuesday evening (September 20).

Meanwhile Section 60 and other powers are in place in parts of Sandwell and Coventry from 3.30pm today until 6.30am tomorrow following concerns that another protest could be held in these two areas, the police said. “This gives us extra powers power to stop and search people and also to oblige people to remove their masks. We also will have the power to disperse groups,” they explained.

Coventry Police earlier said they would have appropriate police presence near the Mandir (Hindu temple) in Stoney Stanton Road in Coventry on 22 September for a potential protest.

Hindu Temple Society, Coventry

A West Midlands spokesperson said: “We always seek to facilitate peaceful protest, upholding the right to protest, while balancing it with the rights of others to keep the public safe, prevent crime and disorder. However, we won’t accept disorder and will seek to act against anyone who attends with the intention to cause trouble, and put the safety of others at risk.

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“We’d ask people to be mindful of misinformation and rumour on social media. This can have a serious impact on communities. Please only share information you know to be true.”

Durga Bhawan

Fake news being spread widely

Police have warned that fake news and unsubstantiated claims were being spread widely online and through messaging apps.

Some of the fake news rumours being spread are:

  • Rumours that a shopkeeper in the Dudley area was involved in the protests, prompting him to be racially abused. The shopkeeper was not involved in the protest, and two people have been arrested for racially aggravated public order offences.
  • Reports that two young men were attacked in Oldbury during a protest. We’ve had no reports of this happening.
  • A picture of a police officer at a mosque is being used to suggest that we are not impartial. This is not true, and the image was taken at the start of this month during a routine visit by officers in Birmingham.
  • Coaches from other parts of the region were planning to arrive in the West Midlands on Wednesday night to cause problems. This did not happen.

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“We won’t tolerate social media being used to commit hate crime offences either. Any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice towards people because of their faith, race, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity is a hate crime. We will investigate reports we receive and pursue the offenders with vigour,” the police said.

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