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Hate Groups in US Grow For Third Year: Report

WASHINGTON, DC – The number of hate groups in the United States expanded significantly last year under President Donald Trump, with anti-Muslim organizations increasing for the third year in a row, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said.

“President Trump in 2017 reflected what white supremacist groups want to see: a country where racism is sanctioned by the highest office, immigrants are given the boot and Muslims banned,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, told Al-Jazeera.

In the group’s report, SPLC identified 954 hate groups in the US last year, an increase from the 917 it had documented in 2016.

Releasing the report on Wednesday in a conference, the civil rights monitor noted that the number of hate groups has risen 20 percent since 2014.

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According to the SPLC, 2017 was the third straight year to witness a rise in the number of hate groups. It was also the first year since 2009 that hate groups were documented in all 50 states.

Neo-Nazi groups, which the year before had numbered 99, saw the largest increase, growing by 22 percent and reaching 121 groups across the country.

Neo-Nazi groups were among the more than 600 organizations the SPLC designated as a broader category, which also includes Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapters, neo-Confederate groups, and others.

Anti-government groups grew from 623 in 2016 to 689 last year, the group explained, adding that 237 of those groups were armed militias.

Anti-Muslim groups rose for the third year in a row.

Hate Groups in US Grow For Third Year: Report - About Islam

Domestic Terrorism

Meanwhile, KKK chapters declined drastically, decreasing from 130 in 2016 to 72 last year, in what Beirich attributed to the growing appeal of the alt-right, a loosely knit coalition of white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis who advocate a white ethnostate.

In a recent report, the SPLC documented 100 people killed or injured by affiliates of the alt-right throughout the last four years.

Last month, the Anti-Defamation League published a report that found 18 people were killed by white supremacists in 2017.

“Domestic terrorism committed by white supremacists … continues to be a problem,” Beirich said, alluding to a string of far-right attacks that resulted in deaths last year.

“It’s as if our culture has been infused by these ideas,” Beirich said.