Leicester Cathedral service to mark arrival of Ugandan Asians

The service at Leicester Cathedral Eric Pickles MP was among the guests at the service at Leicester Cathedral

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A service has been held in Leicester to commemorate 40 years since the arrival of Ugandan Asians in the UK.

About 60,000 Asians were ordered to leave Uganda in 1972 under the military dictatorship of Idi Amin, and about half migrated to Britain.

Many settled in Leicester, despite an advertising campaign warning them not to come to the city.

But the service at Leicester Cathedral gave thanks for their arrival and their positive contribution to the city.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, was among those at the service of thanksgiving.

Mr Pickles said: "Well it's been a great day here, wonderful to celebrate a community coming to Leicester, making a very big difference, making the town better, making the community better and just demonstrating what hope can achieve."

When Asians were ordered to leave Uganda

  • Around 60,000 Ugandan Asians were ordered to leave the country in 1972.
  • Under the military dictatorship of Idi Amin, Asians living in the country who had not taken Ugandan citizenship were given 90 days to emigrate.
  • Some 30,000 Ugandan Asians with British overseas passports arrived in the UK and almost all were granted asylum.

Leicester council's advertising campaign in the 1970s warned any Ugandan Asians considering settling in the city that it would be against "your own interests and those of your family".

Ugandan Asians were told: "You should not come to Leicester."

In a discussion on BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier this year, the Muslim Forum's Manzoor Mughal said he remembered the adverts very well.

He said they had actually encouraged more people to settle in Leicester.

"Ugandan Asians were curious to find out why the city council was telling them not to come to Leicester, and they came to see why they were doing so," he said.

"When they came here... they liked what they saw, and therefore they came in large numbers to settle in Leicester, and therefore the advertisement backfired for the city council.

"But in the long run it has been to the advantage of the city."

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