Scottish leader raises concern over Catalonia crisis

Sympathy with Catalonia's bid to hold an independence referendum next week is running high in Scotland, with demonstrators gathering in Glasgow to show support

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed concern Thursday about the Spanish government's crackdown in Catalonia, as demonstrators gathered in Glasgow in support of self-determination.

Sturgeon was speaking after thousands of people took to the streets of Barcelona on Wednesday to protest against the detention of key members of the team organising an independence referendum for Catalonia set for October 1 which Madrid and Spanish courts say is illegal.

"It is of course entirely legitimate for Spain to oppose independence for Catalonia, but what I think is of concern anywhere is for a state to seek to deny the right of a people to democratically express their will," Sturgeon told lawmakers.

"The right of self-determination is an important international principle, and I hope very much that it will be respected in Catalonia and everywhere else."

Sturgeon, the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, also called for dialogue between the Catalan and the Madrid governments to try to resolve the situation.

"That has got to be preferable to the sight of police officers seizing ballot papers and entering newspaper offices," she said.

On Thursday evening around 100 demonstrators gathered in Glasgow, Scotland's second city, in a show of support for Catalonia.

Oriol Roig, from Barcelona, told AFP he was heartened by the turnout on the steps of Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

"I feel very proud, and as well very moved to see Scottish people, especially Glaswegian people as I have been living in Glasgow now for a year, to see that they demonstrate in favour of the Catalan process," the 24-year-old said.

Demonstrators waved hybrid flags amalgamating the yellow stripes of Catalonia with the blue saltire of Scotland, and a press pullout stating "Si" from pro-independence Scottish newspaper The National.

Jonathon Shafi, founder of Scotland's Radical Independence Campaign, said people in Catalonia should be allowed to "choose the future of their own country".

"Today's event is a chance for Glaswegians to stand with the people of Catalonia, and stand with them on the basis of fundamental democratic rights," he told AFP.

A referendum on Scottish independence from the rest of Britain was held in 2014, but voters rejected their call by 55 percent to 45 percent.

After Britain voted for Brexit last year, Sturgeon raised the possibility of another referendum for Scotland, although she has since pulled back from the idea.