The alleged racial abuse of Hearts player Clevid Dikamona during the Edinburgh derby was sickening.
TV pictures showing a Hibs fan apparently shouting at the footballer were beamed into living rooms and pubs across the country.
I’m pleased that both the club and the police have taken the incident very seriously. Whether the allegation is proved or not, it’s sometimes easy to pretend Scotland is a uniquely tolerant country, where racism is a thing of the past. Sadly, that’s not true. It isn’t talking Scotland down to say so, because we can only hope to tackle intolerance and hatred if we accept it exists.
At the weekend, a report from the Humanist Society Scotland told us some home truths. Around one-in-ten people in Scotland would not accept someone of a different religion marrying a relative or being elected as their MSP, while 20 per cent said same-sex relationships are wrong.
Last year, a new book revealed that Scotland has a higher rate of race-related murders than the rest of the UK. Our supposed anti-racist values as a nation are a “myth”, the authors concluded.
There have been reports over the past year of Muslim women being attacked in Scotland, while a worrying number of anti-semitism cases also came to light.
There is no doubt that, as a country, we have made great strides towards ending intolerance. And I know every political party in Holyrood is committed to doing more. It’s clear that we must work harder to change attitudes in our playgrounds, our workplaces, on the terraces, and in our communities. It is a fight for all of us.
Working together, we can ensure that Scotland’s image as a beacon of tolerance becomes a reality.