Journalist abused while conducting interviews in Leicester
(R: Aina J. Khan) Image by Aina J. Khan Twitter account
A journalist for The Guardian has spoken out against the abuse she faced while doing her job in the wake of communal violence in Leicester.
Aina J Khan was called ‘a member of the Taliban’ when she was conducting interviews in the English city, where violence and unrest erupted after India won a cricket match against Pakistan last month.
Reports have stated that the violence has spread to other parts of the country with a mob of 200 masked people circling a Hindu Temple in Birmingham and hurling abuses at the people inside the temple premises.
So far, fifteen people have been arrested in east Leicester “to deter further disorder” during a policing operation on Sunday night. This comes after two people were arrested earlier in connection with the incidents on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Khan, described the incident on Twitter and said, ““It was a tense day of reporting from Leicester for me today. I interviewed a Hindu man wearing a motorbike helmet, holding an Indian flag on Belgrave Road, the site of some of the unrest yesterday between a group of Muslim and Hindu men. Here’s what happened.
“This man said he supported Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – a group whose founders took inspiration from Mussolini’s fascists.
“He said India’s independence did not truly begin until Narendra Modi took office as PM, eight years ago, and that Modi’s leadership was the panacea for “jihadist Muslims” in India. Muslims were a problem in the U.K., helmet man said, pointing to grooming gangs in Rotherham.
“This man exuberantly professed how great and altruistic RSS was, a stone’s throw away from a statue of Gandhi that stands adjacent to a Hindu temple. The irony here being that Gandhi was assassinated by an RSS member (who the RSS claim had left by then).
“The interview got heated when another man, an RSS member, accused me of bias when I shared concerns about yesterday’s impromptu marchers chanting “Jai Shri Ram,” a Hindu chant appropriated by extremists in India, that has now become synonymous with anti-Muslim hatred.
“Another man joined the discussion, and very quickly, all three began shouting at me. It was an extremely uncomfortable position to be in.
“In short, I was accused of being a member of the Taliban, an extremist, playing the victim card. I was accused of not scrutinising Pakistan’s treatment of its minorities and fixating on India’s treatment of its minorities, of ignoring how Muslims are raping everyone.
“If I were a white journalist, and not visibly Muslim, suffice to say I would not have faced this level of scrutiny. But it is what it is. It’s hard not to let your emotions get the better of you, when you’re attacked in this way, fortunately only verbally.”
“I was also filmed, and I was refuted, very emphatically by one young British Hindu man in particular who also joined the discussion, and said that the fascist inspiration that underpinned the inception of RSS? It was not true.
“We eventually all went our separate ways. I tried to listen. To question. But the accusations of bias, and the constant shutting down, it was hard to get a word in edge ways.”
“There is no doubt these men were not representative of the Hindu community.”
She continued, “A group of Muslim men had gathered in protest a stone’s throw away, there was around 50 police officers with high-vis jackets, helmets and batons, tensions were still running high. Her son gratefully shook Freeman’s hands with both of his own when Freeman left her at her doorstep
“Nearby, I watched an English woman hold back tears, as she scrubbed blood from her window sill with some anti-bacterial wipes. Remnants of yesterday’s violence when there was a stand off between a group of Muslim and Hindu men. Close by, a red car had had its rear window smashed. “There was a peaceful gathering of mostly young Muslims in Belgrave road today, but the anger was palpable, and anxiety hung on the mouths of local residents, who looked out their front doors with concern after a night of chaos they hope will not return.”