Fireworks and missiles thrown at police as hundreds protest outside Smethwick temple

Fireworks and missiles were thrown at police, during a protest outside a Hindu temple in Smethwick.

Hundreds of people 'protested' outside the Durga Bhawan Temple in Smethwick last night
Hundreds of people 'protested' outside the Durga Bhawan Temple in Smethwick last night

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Durga Bhawan Temple in Smethwick on Tuesday night, where police have said there was "minor disorder" but "there was no outbreak of serious violence".

An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of knife possession.

It is believed the disorder was sparked by violence in Leicester over the previous days, which has seen tension between the city's Muslim and Hindu communities.

West Midlands Police said: "Following a protest gathering in Smethwick last night (20 September), there was some minor disorder and one person was arrested.

"We had a pre-planned police presence near the temple in Spon Lane where fireworks and missiles were thrown towards some of our officers. Thankfully no-one was injured.

"We're also looking into reports of a small number of cars being damaged.

"An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possessing a knife and remains in custody for questioning.

"To help ensure there was no outbreak of serious violence, we had stop and search powers in place until this morning.

"We are continuing to provide a visible police presence, working closely with faith leaders and partners across the community to provide reassurance.

"We will continue to monitor the situation locally and across the region."

On Tuesday afternoon, Sandwell Police had tweeted: "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."

Before the protest, Councillor Ahmad Bostan of Abbey ward tweeted: "There is no protest outside the Smethwick Mandir today! Sandwell is proud of our diversity and I’m grateful to all faith leaders and the police for their brilliant work.

"Please ignore any messages that are inviting people to gather. Peace, love and unity conquers all."

After the protest, he said: "The despicable scenes witnessed in Smethwick tonight do not represent the harmonious rich diversity of our town and those who came with ill intentions will be dealt with by the law!

"Our communities stand together against such bigotry and the peddlers of hate are not welcome here!"

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said he was "deeply concerned" by events in both Smethwick and Leicester, where there was unrest at the weekend after several weeks of growing tension between parts of the Hindu and Muslim communities.

"Faith groups contribute so much to society in the West Midlands, in so very many different ways. That includes a commitment to ensure that we all treat each other as we would want to be treated ourselves," he said.

"We all have a responsibility to work together, calmly, collectively and co-cooperatively, united as one, against all and any forms of division and hate.

"The West Midlands needs the collaborative strength, solidarity and support of all its faith communities to meet the challenges that we face as a consequence of such matters as, youth violence, poverty and the cost of living crisis.

"As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I will always engage with, listen to and work with all the faith groups of the West Midlands, to ensure you are able to practice your faith peacefully and respectfully, within an environment that ensures your safety and security."

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