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Muslims now No. 1 target of white supremacists

27th February 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Rosemary Eng
Contributing Writer

(Special from NorthStarNews Today) — In the changing face of hatred in America anti-Muslim groups have proliferated far more than others.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), historically known for fighting the Black-targeted Ku Klux Klan, said anti-Muslim hate groups have jumped from five in 2010 to 101 in 2016.

“The most dramatic growth was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups – from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year, the SPLC says.

While anti-Black hatred has not gone away, as tragically illustrated by Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who shot nine African Americans in 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the places of worship now most targeted are Muslim mosques.

Etched in the memories of African Americans will always be the 16th Street Baptist Church KKK 1963 bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. Now the places of worship most frequently targeted by hate is not Black churches, but Muslim mosques.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) interactive anti-mosque incidents map,, shows that in the high-anti-mosque-incident state of Texas, a mosque was burned down in the town of Victoria in January.

The ACLU says an unknown arsonist burned down the Islamic Center of Victoria in a massive fire. The mosque had previously experienced vandalism and a break-in.

Two other very recent incidents not yet on the ACLU map are the probable arson of the Islamic Center of Eastside in Bellevue, Washington, and the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce set ablaze in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

“The radical right is booming,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow and editor of the SPLC Intelligence Report, at a February 15 press conference to release SPLC’s annual census of hate groups.

Social media is a boon to hate groups and can be far more insidious than very visible white-robed Klansmen.

Many white supremacists are “lurking on the internet” having no direct contact with hate groups, and acting solely based on what they are reading online, said Potok.

Such was the case of the killing of six people in a Quebec City mosque last month. Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale characterized charged suspect (Alexandre) Bissonnette as a “lone wolf.”

According to CNN and CBC, in the porous-bordered world of hate, Bissonnette followed profiles that espoused right-wing ideologies on Facebook. He was not known to belong to any hate groups.

In the U.S., the candidacy of President Donald Trump was “absolutely electrifying to the radical right,” said Potok.

“The Trump phenomenon unleashed right-wing hatred in a way we have never seen.” The 1,094 hate crimes 34 days after the election “are clearly related to the election,” Potok said. The increase in anti-Muslim hate was fuelled by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, including his campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the United States….

This burgeoning hate also was exacerbated by the international migrant flows as well as right-leaning trends all over Europe.

President George W. Bush declared after 9/11 that “the enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.” Anti-Muslim hate crimes dramatically dropped after Bush’s statements, Potok said. “Words of public officials really matter.”

On the other hand, Trump’s hiring of Stephen Bannon as chief strategic advisor and now member of the National Security Council has worked to ramp up hatred.

The SPLC website describes Bannon as former head of Breitbart News, “a far-right media outlet known for promoting the so-called “alternative right” – fundamentally, “a recent rebranding of white supremacy for public relations purposes.” With Bannon’s appointment, white nationalists felt emboldened, thinking they have a man inside the White House,” Potok said.

Potok says unlike years earlier in this country’s history, hate groups are no longer just clustered in the states of the South, they are clustered “where the population is.” North Dakota, for example, has one reported hate group while California has 79 and New York, 47.

SPLC’s hate map can be found at: .

Read Potok’s entire report on The Year in Hate and Extremism at

This article originally published in the February 27, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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