Number of US hate groups jumps 20 percent since 2014

File photo for Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, Jul 8, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Number of US hate groups jumps 20 percent since 2014

WASHINGTON: The number of US hate groups rose again in 2017, during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, and has surged 20 percent since 2014, a US civil rights watchdog said on Wednesday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual census identified 954 hate groups in 2017, a 4 percent rise from the year before. The increase followed a 2.8 increase in 2016, and the most recent number represents a jump of one-fifth from 2014.
Among the more than 600 US white supremacist groups, neo-Nazi organizations rose to 121 from 99. Anti-Muslim groups increased for a third year in a row, to 114 from 101 in 2016, after tripling in number a year earlier, the report 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, said in a statement.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In August, Trump came under under fire for saying “both sides” were to blame for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a leftist counter-protester was killed.
He was also criticized for a string of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments, including using a vulgar term to describe Haiti and African countries in a White House meeting on immigration last month.
In a backlash to Trump, the number of black nationalist groups such as the Nation of Islam increased to 233 last year from 193 in 2016, the civil rights group’s report said. It also added two male supremacy groups to its census for the first time.
The report acknowledged that it likely failed to capture the full extent of hate groups in the United States. A growing number of extremist groups, especially those identifying with the alt-right, operate mainly online, it said.
Alt-right groups believe that white identity is under attack by multicultural forces.
The Southern Poverty Law Center report defines hate groups as organizations with beliefs or practices that demonize a class of people, usually for fixed characteristics.
In the past, some groups have criticized the Alabama-based organization’s findings, with skeptics saying it has mislabeled legitimate organizations as “hate groups.”


European court to hear case on stopping Brexit

Updated 20 November 2018
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European court to hear case on stopping Brexit

LONDON: The European Court of Justice will at the end of this month begin hearing a legal challenge brought by anti-Brexit campaigners to force the government to spell out how Britain could revoke its notice to leave the EU.
The hearing comes after the British government was refused permission Tuesday to appeal to the UK Supreme Court over the case, amid growing calls for Prime Minister Theresa May to hold a second referendum on Brexit.
"The best, the really compelling, the objective evidence that all options are still on the table is the desperation with which the government acted to try and block MPs from seeing the clear path to remain," said Jolyon Maugham, a lawyer who has spearheaded the legal challenge.
The Supreme Court rejected a bid from the government for permission to appeal against a lower court ruling asking the European Court to spell out "whether, when and how" Britain can unilaterally revoke its notice to leave the EU, which would see the UK pull out on March 29.
Labour, Scottish nationalist and Green members of the British, Scottish and European parliaments brought the case through the highest civil court in Scotland.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled in September to refer the question to the Court of Justice of the EU.
A hearing at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is set for November 27.
The British government applied to the Court of Session for permission to appeal against the ruling to the higher UK-wide Supreme Court, but the application was rejected.
The government then applied directly to the Supreme Court itself for permission to appeal.
But in refusing that permission on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said the Court of Session's ruling was "preliminary" and the Scottish court would still have to reach a judgement of its own after receiving the CJEU's guidance.
Britain invoked Article 50, its two-year notice of intention to withdraw from the EU, in March 2017.