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Spaniards 'don't like bullfighting'

Most Spaniards do not like bullfighting but oppose the recent move by the north-eastern region of Catalonia to ban it, according to a survey.

The poll, commissioned by daily El Pais, shows 58% of respondents believe the Catalan ban was more a rejection of a Spanish tradition than a desire to protect animal rights.

Catalonia, which prides itself on its distinct identity, became Spain's first major region to prohibit bullfighting last week following a campaign by rights activists.

The poll indicated that 60% of Spaniards don't like bullfighting, 37% do, while 3% did not answer.

However, 57% of respondents said they opposed Catalonia's prohibition, while only 30% backed it. The Metroscopia firm questioned 500 people on Wednesday and Thursday for the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5%.

On Sunday evening, 50 demonstrators for and against the ban chanted slogans and exchanged insults outside Barcelona's Monumental bullring just moments before the arena was staging its first bullfight since the ban was approved by regional legislators on Wednesday. The ban comes into effect in 2012.

Police stood guard, but there were no incidents reported.

The ban will have more of a symbolic than practical effect given that bullfighting is not a popular spectacle in Catalonia and the Monumental is the region's last operating arena.

But the prohibition has irked the bullfighting sector and enraged the conservative opposition Popular Party.

Socialist PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he respected the regional parliament's decision, but added that he did not think prohibition was a good policy.

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From Belfast Telegraph