HIBS captain Ian Murray has been the victim of vile sectarian abuse on Twitter after obscene messages were posted on his social media account.
The club captain was taunted by a bigot calling himself “Ritchie Callaghan” who posted a message calling Murray a “fenian b*****d”.
The thug’s own Twitter account was deleted soon after the rant was sent.
After receiving the message, Murray tweeted: “Warning to all. Sectariansm is an offence even on Twitter. Be careful what you say. That last guy is in a spot of bother. Feel for him”.
Murray has not reported the matter to the police despite the introduction of new laws clamping down on online sectarian comments. Lothian and Borders Police said they could not investigate the matter until they received a complaint.
A Hibs spokesman said today that the club “cannot condone any form of unacceptable behaviour”, and had worked closely with police and the Scottish Government on the new anti-bigotry laws.
Club supporters condemned the abuse as “absolutely sickening”, and said they hoped a complaint was lodged with police so the perpetrator could be traced and prosecuted.
The offensive tweet read: “You are just a fenian b*****d! Hope Ian Black kills you you dirty wee fenian rat. Hope you and your family all die.”
Murray, who turned 31 yesterday, left Hibs to join Rangers in 2005 before returning to the Easter Road side in 2008 after a brief spell at Norwich City. He currently has 800 followers on Twitter.
Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibs Supporter’s Club, said: “It is disgusting for something like this to happen to Ian. He has been a tremendous player for the club and for him to get a message like that is absolutely sickening.
“I hope someone does make a complaint to police about this because they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. We were at a meeting with police before the new laws came into place on March 1, and they said they were going to be very strict about enforcing them.
“There have been other players who were on Twitter who came off because of the abuse they were getting. If this happens again then Ian might do the same thing. He’s a gentleman and doesn’t deserve this kind of shameful behaviour. ”
Last April, Richie Towell, while on loan from Celtic to Hibs, said that as an Irish Catholic he has met with more hostility at Tynecastle than at Ibrox. He said: “I thought it was even a bit worse at Hearts than it was at Rangers.”
Dr John Kelly, an expert in sport and sectarianism at Edinburgh University, said: “With regards to Hibs and Hearts, it’s a tiny minority who are involved in sectarian behaviour. But it is still a problem and provides another example that it’s not just an issue for Rangers and Celtic. I cannot be certain, but this message seems to be the work of a silly wee boy. Whether it’s demonstrative of a wider problem, my gut reaction would be it’s not.”
Last week, two Hibs fans caught chanting offensive songs on the train back from a cup quarter-final became the first people convicted under controversial new anti-bigotry laws. Andrew Whitson, 28, from Longniddry, and Paul Swan, 39, from Tranent, admitted the breach under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication (Scotland) Act 2012, and have both been banned from attending games for a year.
Dave Scott of Nil by Mouth, which campaigns against sectarianism in Scotland, said: “Far too many people are choosing to use social media sites to bring hatred into the 21st century. These individuals seem to feel that the law cannot touch them in cyberspace, but that’s not the case.”
Comment – Page 18
LAWS AIM TO TACKLE BIGOTRY AT FOOTBALL MATCHES
NEW laws to tackle bigotry and hatred in football were introduced by the Scottish Government on March 1.
The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill created new offences relating to behaviour deemed to incite religious, racial or other forms of hatred specifically linked to football matches.
The first arrests took place at a game between Rangers and Hearts at Ibrox on the Saturday after the laws were introduced.
The Act also targets online abuse and, on March 5, a 20-year-old man was arrested for threats aimed at Celtic manager Neil Lennon on a social networking site.
Dr Stuart Waiton, lecturer in sociology and criminology at the University of Abertay, Dundee, said: “There seems to be a problem with how we deal with websites where people rant and write rubbish.
“We have to remember this is someone just being an idiot, but put the word ‘sectarian’ in front of it and you can do almost anything to them. People should be allowed to write rubbish.”