Catholics bear brunt of Scottish sectarian abuse
Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent
Tuesday November 28, 2006
There has been a steep rise in cases of religious hatred and religiously motivated crime in Scotland, mainly targeted against Catholics living in the west of the country. Official figures yesterday revealed that the number of sectarian incidents reported to police jumped by 50%, with more than 440 Scots convicted of religiously motivated verbal and physical assaults in one 18-month period.
The Roman Catholic church said the statistics provided proof that religious bigotry was embedded in parts of Scottish society. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Scottish church’s senior cleric, said: “Sadly, this document shows that Catholics in Scotland are still many times more likely to be the subject of a sectarian attack than any other group. During the period of this study Catholics were five times more likely to be the victims. This is of great concern to me.”
The report from Scottish executive statisticians is the latest in a series of initiatives to combat sectarianism involving police, churches, political leaders and the owners of Glasgow’s two largest football clubs, Rangers and Celtic.
The figures analysed 726 cases between January 1 2004 and June 30 2005 where people were charged with religiously aggravated offences, and found that in 64% of cases the abuse or assaults were motivated by hatred against Catholics, and by hatred against Protestants in most of the remaining cases.
More recent figures show that in 2005-06 there were more than 700 racially aggravated crimes handled by prosecutors, up from 479 the previous year.
They were frequently attacks on the street or close to football matches, mostly by drunken young men. Although many incidents took place in Glasgow, a large minority of offenders lived in different parts of Scotland, suggesting that Rangers-Celtic games and the city’s historic loyalist and republican parades were a significant focus for sectarianism.
Cathy Jamieson, the Scottish executive’s justice minister, said that while crime was falling generally the rise in these cases was evidence that bigotry was being punished and “publicly recorded as the disgrace they are. The message is clear: bigots and bullies have no place in a modern Scotland and will be shamed.”
Assistant chief constable Kevin Smith said that in more than 20% of cases “sectarian bile” was also directed against police officers trying to quell disturbances or outbreaks of sectarianism.
Professor Steve Bruce, of Aberdeen University, editor of the recent study Sectarianism In Scotland, said that as nearly 90% of the offences involved verbal abuse and breach of the peace this suggested that religious intolerance was a minor problem. The figures, he said, showed that religious intolerance was evenly shared among Protestants and Catholics, as the two-to-one ratio of incidents was roughly the same as the size of those populations in the west of Scotland.
“I’m pleasantly reassured that 90% of these cases didn’t involve violence,” he said.
“That puts it far, far below wife-beating, racial attacks and below gay-bashing.”
Not surprised at the comments from that Bruce guy but that’s a shocking way to look at sectarianism. He has basically said that there are 2 Protestants for every 1 Catholic so you’d expect Catholics to suffer twice the abuse. Anybody else looking at the situation logically from the outside might argue the opposite. The fact that only 1/3 of the population is Catholic would suggest that they should only suffer 1/3 of the abuse, not 2/3.
“Pleasantly reassured…” prick.