There has been a near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups in the United States, according to a new report.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an American advocacy organisation specialising in civil rights and public interest litigation, said the radical right had been energised by the candidacy of Donald Trump, resulting a growth from 34 anti-Muslim groups in 2015 to 101 last year.
The growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims, including an arson attack that destroyed a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries. The latest FBI statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims grew by 67 percent in 2015, the year in which Trump launched his campaign.
“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” said Mark Potok of the SPLC. “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. In Steve Bannon, these extremists think they finally have an ally who has the president’s ear.”
The SPLC said the increase in anti-Muslim hate was fueled by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, including his campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the United States, as well as anger over terrorist attacks such as the June massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The overall number of hate groups likely understates the real level of organised hatred in America as a growing number of extremists operate mainly online and are not formally affiliated with hate groups.
Aside from its annual census of extremist groups, the SPLC found that Trump’s rhetoric reverberated across the nation in other ways. In the first 10 days after his election, the SPLC documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.
Also, in a post-election SPLC survey of 10,000 educators, 90 percent said the climate at their schools had been negatively affected by the campaign. Eighty percent described heightened anxiety and fear among students, particularly immigrants, Muslims and African Americans. Numerous teachers reported the use of slurs, derogatory language and extremist symbols in their classrooms.
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