A nearly three-fold increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate groups last year contributed to an overall rise in the number of hate groups in the United States for the second year in a row, according the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
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The number of anti-Muslim hate groups jumped to 101 last year from 34 in 2015 “as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump,” according to the SPLC, a legal advocacy group that monitors extremism in the United States.
Overall, the number of domestic hate groups rose to 917 last year, from 892 in 2015, or about 3 percent, the Montgomery, Alabama-based center said in its annual report, contained in its Intelligence Report released Wednesday.
“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center, said in a statement. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists.” Such groups had increased nearly 14 percent the year before to 892 from 784 in 2014.
The SPLC defines hate groups as those that malign entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity.
The rise in anti-Muslim hate groups echoes the most recent FBI statistics. Hate crimes against Muslims surged 67 percent in 2015, the more recent year for which statistics are available, the SPLC noted.
The most dramatic growth in the number of hate groups was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups: from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year pic.twitter.com/4NKwfbHW3h— SPLC (@splcenter) February 15, 2017
The SPLC also said that “several new and energetic groups appeared last year that were almost entirely focused on Trump and seemed to live off his candidacy.”
The center’s findings came just days after anti-Muslim posters were discovered at a mosque in Bossier City, Louisiana, and on the campuses of the University of Texas and Rutgers University in New Jersey.
The SPLC report said the Trump presidency has coincided with a spike in anti-Muslim activity.
In the first 10 days after his election, the SPLC said, it documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.
But the overall growth in hate groups was not limited to anti-Muslim organizations.
The number of black separatist groups also grew, to 193 last year from 180 in 2015, as did neo-Confederate groups, to 43 from 35, according to the SPLC.
Moving in the other direction, however, the number of "Patriot," or anti-government groups, declined 37.5 percent to 623 last year from 998 in 2015, the center said.
"The groups had skyrocketed from a low of 149 in 2008 to a high of 1,360 in 2012, in large part as a reaction to the November 2008 election of Barack Obama," the report noted.
Similarly, the number of Ku Klux Klan groups fell to 130 from 190 the year before, after having more than doubled from 72 in 2014.
The center says it uses hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports to compile its report.