Bigotry Now All Over The Country 2006-11-29Posted by clype in Intolerance, Scotland.
The belief that sectarianism is a ‘west of Scotland problem’ associated with football has been confounded by a new report, which reveals acts of religious hatred are being reported in almost every part of the country.
The first major study of new anti-bigotry laws in Scotland shows that 635 people were accused of religiously aggravated offences between January 2004 and June 2005.
The figures released by ‘The Scottish Executive’ show that while four-fifths of sectarian crimes took place in Glasgow or Lanarkshire, more than a third of offenders came from outside those areas. And they showed only 33 per cent of cases related to football, while 12 per cent were linked to marches and parades, and 45 per cent involved alcohol.
The figures prompted condemnation from Cardinal Keith O’Brien. He said:
‘I am forced to question the wisdom of numerous high-profile initiatives focusing on football clubs or the constant marginalisation of sectarianism in Scotland as little more than drink-fuelled, post-match rivalry. It is, sadly, deeper, wider and altogether more pervasive than that.’
He said Catholic Christians were five times more likely than Protestant Christians to suffer sectarian abuse.
‘It is not poverty, alcohol or football which underpins most cases of religiously aggravated crime in Scotland, but blatant anti-Catholicism,’ he added.
The number of cases of bigotry reported by police has trebled since ‘The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003’ came into force, according to figures recently published by ‘The Crown Office’. The act created the offence of religious aggravation.
Yesterday’s report revealed 532 cases reported to ‘The Crown Office’ from 2004-01 to 2005-06. Of the 635 accused, 215 — some 34 per cent — were from Glasgow and 191 — or 29 per cent — from Lanarkshire. Edinburgh was home to 23, with 12 living in West Lothian, 18 in Fife, seven in Dundee and nine in Aberdeen.
People charged with religious-hate crimes also came from the Highlands, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Argyll and Bute, the Borders, England and Northern Ireland.
Assistant Chief Constable Mr.Kevin Smith said:
‘The stereotype is that sectarianism is largely a west of Scotland problem. But it is clear that this is much wider.’
But Mr.Smith said there were some signs that the war against sectarianism was bearing fruit.
‘I think in the last couple of years we have seen a difference. It will take a long time to eradicate, and we may never do it. But I am hopeful that, perhaps within a generation, sectarianism will be, at the very least, confined to the very margins of society.’
The Justice Minister Ms.Cathy Jamieson, said:
‘Now crimes motivated by bigotry and religious intolerance are not only being punished, but publicly recorded as the disgrace they are.’
BIGOTRY REVIEW: KEY POINTS:
- Between 2004-01 and 2005-06, there were 726 charges brought for religious aggravation, of which 441, or 61 per cent, were proven, the majority for breach of the peace.
- One hundred took place at football grounds; 63 were at Celtic Park, 25 were at Ibrox and 11 at Hampden Park.
- Old Firm matches provided 61 cases, while the remaining 39 involved other football teams playing either Rangers or Celtic.
- Twenty per cent of reported offences occurred in the street, and 15 per cent took place in ‘residential areas’. No further details of the circumstances were given.
- In 67 per cent of cases the conduct was anti-Catholic, while in 30 per cent of cases it was anti-Protestant.
- The report recommends further research to understand the motives and beliefs of offenders better.
- The accused were overwhelmingly male, with an average age of 30.
- ‘Religious hate crimes occur across whole of Scotland, says report‘, Michael Howie, The Scotsman, 2006-11-28 Tu