Police were called to Stamford Hill on Sunday to break up clashes between three Chassidic groups.
Members of Satmar and Neturie Karta, were involved in an ugly stand-off on the streets of the Jewish north London neighbourhood with members of the Belz sect, who were celebrating the arrival of their leading religious figure, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, for his first visit to the UK in 23 years.
One eyewitness to the disturbances, who claimed a teenage boy was bundled into a car and physically attacked, described the clashes as “one of the most sickening and shocking things I’ve seen in a long time.”
She added: “There are always going to be the people who are on the other side and who don’t like a sect.” No injuries were reported and no arrests were made.
The incident failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the Belz community, with organiser Rabbi Ahron Klein saying: “The rebbe’s visit was a huge success. We are deeply grateful to him for attending and we are sure that this will stay long in the memory of all those who took part.”
His week-long trip culminated in the opening of a new Belz educational complex in Stamford Hill, an event attended by thousands.
The rebbe spent one night on his visit among an estimated 20,000 chassdim as well as members of the wider community.
Rabbi Yidel Baumgarten said: “This is an incredibly special year for Belz in the UK. To be able to open a state-of-the art facility within our community was testament to the dedication of our community. To have the rebbe open come here to open it transcends Belz and affects the whole area. This is something that our children will remember and I hope will lead to our continued success.”