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US hate crimes increase for second straight year, FBI says

The Victoria Islamic Center mosque put ablaze in Victoria, Texas January 29, 2017. (Photo by Victoria Islamic Center)

The FBI has released new statistics illustrating a nearly 5 percent rise in hate crimes for the second consecutive year in 2016, especially against Muslims.

In incidents where the criminals were identified, the FBI found that about 58% of crimes were motivated by the victims' race, ethnicity or ancestry.

Meanwhile, 21 percent of crimes were motivated by religion and nearly 18 percent by a victim's sexual orientation.

About half the 1,273 incidents involving religion were against Jews while Muslims were targeted in 307 religion-based crimes.

Reported anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by nearly 20 percent, anti-white by 17 percent, anti-Latino by 15 percent, and anti-Jewish by 3 percent. The number of anti-black crimes remained nearly flat from 2015 to 2016.

The Victoria Islamic Center mosque put ablaze in Victoria, Texas, on January 29, 2017. (Photo via the Victoria Islamic Center)

Of the 5,770 known offenders, 46 percent were white and 26 percent were African-American.

The report was allegedly based on data voluntarily submitted by about 15,000 law enforcement agencies.

While the FBI data captures a sweeping look at bias-fueled crimes in the US, the report is considered incomplete because not all jurisdictions report their hate crimes.

According to the FBI, 88 percent of agencies voluntarily participating in the hate crime statistics program “reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions” last year.

Former FBI director James Comey acknowledged the under-reporting of hate crimes earlier this year, asserting that the bureau needs “to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime, to fully understand what is happening in our communities, and how to stop it.”

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