Nearly 60 percent of all religious hate crimes in Scotland are targeted against Catholicism according to new official figures.
“Since Catholics represent just 16 percent of Scotland’s population, the fact that they account for almost 60 percent of the victims of sectarian crime reflects poorly on modern Scotland and is an indicator of entrenched hostility on a worrying scale,” said Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley on Nov. 18.
The figures, produced by the Scottish Government, found that there were 693 charges with a religious aggravation reported in 2010-11—the highest in four years.
The data shows 58 percent of charges referred to conduct which was derogatory towards Catholicism, 37 percent was derogatory towards Protestantism, 2.3 percent towards Judaism and 2.1 percent towards Islam. The religion of the perpetrator or victim was not recorded.
Police were the most common target for this kind of abuse in 42 percent of the charges reported. These charges often referred to incidents where someone had been arrested and subsequently abused a police officer in religiously offensive terms.
The most likely perpetrators were young men, with 95 percent of the offenses carried out by males and 58 percent of all accused between the ages of 16 and 30. Intoxication is also often a factor with 60 percent of cases being described “alcohol related.”
The vast majority of incidents took place in or around Glasgow while 33 percent of all the charges relate to soccer. The city, Scotland’s largest, is home to the two major teams, the traditionally Catholic Celtic Football Club and the traditionally Protestant Rangers Football Club.
“These statistics show the shameful reality of religious hate crime in Scotland,” said Scottish Community Safety Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, herself a practicing Catholic.
“Like racism, this kind of behavior simply shouldn’t be happening in a modern Scotland but sadly, it seems there are still those who think hatred on the basis of religion is acceptable.”
The Scottish Government are currently putting legislation through parliament aimed at curbing sectarian behavior related to soccer.
However, Bishop Tartaglia pointed out that “it remains the case that the overwhelming majority of sectarian incidents are not football related.”
He is now calling for “far more engagement is needed with the Church in future by all public authorities committed to the eradication of religious intolerance.”