Celtic fans ‘could be arrested if they wave Palestine flags’

A Palestine flag visible at Celtic Park during a Europa League match with Hapoel Tel-Aviv in 2009. Picture: SNS
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Celtic fans could be arrested under controversial Scottish legislation if they wave Palestinian flags during their team’s clash with Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Celtic host the Israeli champions in the opening leg of their Champions League play-off tie this Wednesday.

Members of the Parkhead faithful have planned to bring Palestinian flags with them to protest the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

The club have previously been fined by Uefa for fans displaying flags during a European tie, but it now seems the individuals responsible could be landed in hot water themselves.

Police Scotland Superintendent Alan Murray told The Scottish Sun: “At every match, police will monitor the behaviour of the crowd, including any flags or banners displayed, and make a judgement on whether there is criminality and take the appropriate action.”

Though carrying the flag of a foreign nation would not be considered in breach of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act (Scotland) 2012, the nature of Celtic’s opponents could mean the flag waving will be interpreted as “stirring up hatred against a group of persons based on their membership (or presumed membership) of a group defined by reference to a thing mentioned in subsection (4)” which includes “nationality” and “ethnic or national origins”.

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