U.S. to form inter-agency group to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia

Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida
People wearing anti-semitic clothes wave Nazi flags, as they protest outside the Tampa Convention Center where Turning Point USA’s (TPUSA) Student Action Summit (SAS) is being held, in Tampa, Florida, U.S. July 23, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden is establishing an inter-agency group to coordinate efforts to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia and related forms of bias and discrimination, the White House said on Monday.

"The President has tasked the inter-agency group, as its first order of business, to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism," the White House said in a statement.

The move comes as reports of antisemitism have increased nationwide. The issue drew headlines in recent weeks after former Republican President Donald Trump hosted white supremacist Nick Fuentes and the musician formerly known as Kanye West at his private club in Florida.

The White House addressed rising antisemitism in a roundtable event with Jewish leaders last week.

West, now called Ye, has drawn widespread criticism for a spate of antisemitic comments - including praise for Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler - and was suspended from Twitter recently.

Some Republicans have criticized Trump's dinner with Fuentes and Ye, but have stopped short of directly criticizing Trump, who has said he did not know Fuentes.

Last year saw the largest number of antisemitic incidents, including murder, physical assaults, harassment and vandalism, since the Anti-Defamation League began collecting records 40 years ago, the racism watchdog said in its most recent annual audit.

According to FBI data released on Monday, more than 7,200 hate crimes were reported in 2021 in the United States. Over 60% of the reported incidents were based on race, ancestry or ethnicity, while about one in six were classified as sexual orientation-bias crimes and one in seven as religion-bias crimes.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Bradley Perrett

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Kanishka Singh is a breaking news reporter for Reuters in Washington DC, who primarily covers US politics and national affairs in his current role. His past breaking news coverage has spanned across a range of topics like the Black Lives Matter movement; the US elections; the 2021 Capitol riots and their follow up probes; the Brexit deal; US-China trade tensions; the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan; the COVID-19 pandemic; and a 2019 Supreme Court verdict on a religious dispute site in his native India.