Sectarian abuse rife in Scotland, says poll

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The Independent Online

Half a million people in Scotland have suffered some form of sectarian abuse, researchers said yesterday.

Thirteen per cent of those who took part in a BBC survey said they had been victims of sectarianism. The problem in Scotland, which has a population of about 5 million, was at its worst in the west.

The poll of more than 1,000 people also suggested that Catholics were nearly four times as likely to have been victims of sectarianism as Protestants. Many victims said they suffered light-hearted abuse, but more than one in five had been physically assaulted.

Peter McLean, from the anti-sectarian group Nil by Mouth, said that he was "not surprised at all" by the findings. He said the poll was very interesting because earlier research by his group had shown a relatively even spread between the number of Catholics and Protestants being attacked.

He praised the football clubs Rangers and Celtic for making "good moves" to stamp out religious bigotry among their supporters. "But while these are fine words it's time for the clubs to demonstrate their principles by removing people from the ground when they behave in a sectarian manner," he said.