Giulio Meotti
Giulio MeottiCourtesy

“Nobody expected Leicester to become the most multicultural city on the planet". So wrote TheIndependent, the English left-wing newspaper ten years ago. “Leicester in 1972 looked into the crystal ball and did not like what it saw: that within a generation or so it would no longer be a city dominated by white Anglo-Saxon Christians. In the past 40 years, Leicester has become the symbolic city of multicultural Britain, a place where the number and size of minorities are astounding: 55 mosques, 18 Hindu temples, two synagogues, two Buddhist centers and a Jain center are seen as not a recipe for conflict or a millstone around the neck of the city, but as a badge of honor”.

There are places that have visited the European future before others: Malmö in Sweden, Trappes and Roubaix in France, Neukölln in Germany, Molenbeek in Belgium, Ceuta and Melilla in Spain. Leicester in England is also one of them ...

And last month Leicester burned.

Its famous multiculturalism, so praised by the system, has exploded. Attacks with knives, stones and bottles, destroyed cars, religious symbols were under siege and there were dozens of wounded, including policemen. The explosion of violence began after the cricket match between India and Pakistan last August 28, with the first country named the winners. Some members of the Indian community in Leicester celebrated with the choir "Pakistan Murdabad", "Death to Pakistan", dating back to the time of the partition.

Next: A Sikh is attacked in the street. Social media spread the false news that he is a Muslim. The house of a Hindu family that celebrated the Ganesh Chaturthi holiday is attacked and social media are unleashed with the false news of a "premeditated attack against a Muslim." Then another fake news item: a Muslim girl allegedly harassed by three Hindus. Result: A Hindu hunt in the streets.

And to think that a year ago the city of Leicester advertised its model thus: "In Leicester churches, mosques and temples live side by side in diversity and harmony".

Not long before the riots broke out, Claudia Webbe, a local MP, described Leicester as a "shining example of how people of different cultures can live side by side together." Keith Vaz, former lawmaker from Leicester East, described his city as “one big happy family.” Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsbry wrote: “The rich past and vibrant multicultural present of Leicester is something to celebrate and enjoy".

"In Leicester they are all minorities", headlined The Guardian, enjoying "the end of the white and Christian majority in the city". Christianity replaced by Islam: “In Leicester, a Deobandi mosque, built in 2000, overlooks the Edwardian church of St Philip, begun in 1909. The congregation of the church is of 30 people, mixed of whites, Indians and Africans; the mosque across the street holds 500 people”. The Independent also announced with triumphal tones: "Leicester, the first city where whites are a minority". And The Economist sang "Leicester model".

Leicester - once known as a center for the production of shoes and textiles - has seen the ethnic balance upset.

Muslim immigration has led to the proliferation of mosques in Leicester, which today has more than 200 mosques and madrassas. The city is home to several mega-mosques. The Leicester Central Mosque complex has a capacity of 3,000 worshipers. The huge Masjid Umar mosque has four towering minarets and a large dome that displays the Arabic calligraphy of the Quran.

What happened? The city became Islamized very quickly and today the Muslim population is 20 percent (in 2001, Muslims were 11 percent). Today Islam is the majority among the children in the city.

Tony Blair justified the intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11 on the grounds that ousting the Taliban would be an act of liberation: "I don't think," said Blair, "that anyone seriously wants to live under that kind of regime." A year ago, Afghanistan was returned to the Taliban. But the question now is that posed by the Spectator: "Did Blair realize that the rules imposed in Afghanistan were adopted, voluntarily, in Leicester?".