A petition to remove a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Leicester has received nearly 5,000 signatures, BBC reported.
The online petition accuses the Indian independence campaigner of being “a fascist, racist and sexual predator”.
Last year, students from Manchester called for a similar statue of Gandhi to be removed because of his “well-documented anti-black racism”.
In 2018, Gandhi’s statue was removed from the campus of the University of Ghana after protests from students and faculty who argue India’s founding father considered Africans “inferior”.
Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe called the petition a “massive distraction” from the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Labour politician said Gandhi “was part of creating a movement in the same way that Martin Luther King created a movement”.
“His form of peaceful protest, like Black Lives Matter, is a force for change,” she said.
“There is not any desire from the black community to move that symbol of change.”
Professor of Indian History at Oxford University, Faisal Devji, said he thought the debate to remove the statue was “absurd”.
“It seems almost surreal to have to list the many things Gandhi did,” he said.
“He’s a fallible man as all men are, but to lump him in with slave owners, that’s a bit much.”
Prof Devji said Gandhi’s statue in Leicester was also a representation of the large refugee Gujarati community in the city.
“Gandhi himself was Gujarati, and many of the [city’s] residents came from Uganda when they were expelled by Idi Amin,” he said.
“So in some ways, Gandhi’s statue represents their presence in that place.”
Several academics have noted reports of Gandhi’s derogatory views towards native Africans while he lived in South Africa in the late 19th Century.
Gandhi’s biographer and grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi, previously admitted one of the fathers of modern India was “at times ignorant and prejudiced about South Africa’s blacks”.
Leicester City Council said the petition had not yet been submitted to the authority.