Gathering to 'symbolically protect' Leicester Gandhi statue

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Mahatma Gandhi statueImage source, Geograph
Image caption,
The Mahatma Gandhi statue was erected in Belgrave Road in Leicester in 2009 and funded by a charitable organisation

People gathered to "symbolically protect" a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Leicester after a petition to remove it hit more than 6,000 signatures.

The appeal, which accused Gandhi of being "a fascist, racist and sexual predator" was removed after the city council asked its founder to submit formal arguments instead.

An expected protest supporting the statue's removal did not take place.

Former MP Keith Vaz said the sculpture was "going nowhere".

Image caption,
Former Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said the statue was "going nowhere"

The former politician, who attended an unveiling ceremony in 2009, said: "This is the way we honour Mahatma Gandhi who wanted peaceful protest and peaceful activity.

"He was never someone who believed in violence and he did not believe people should act as a mob to remove things.

"We hope very much Leicester City Council and others will realise this statue stays.

"It is going nowhere. All of us are here symbolically to protect it."

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe called the petition for its removal a "massive distraction" from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Image caption,
Protesters looped a white ribbon around the statue's enclosure

Kerri Pangulier, who started the petition, wrote on the page: "I have received an update from Leicester City Council requesting me to close the petition and formally submit it with presenting arguments."

A city council spokeswoman said: "Although this petition has not yet been submitted to us, these representations will be considered as part of a wider conversation about the context, relevance and appropriateness of street names, statues and monuments in the city.

"In such a culturally-diverse city as Leicester, it's important that we respect the histories of all our communities and understand the context for the historical references that are part of our streetscape and built environment."

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