The number of reported hate crimes in the United States has risen for the second straight year in 2016, according to statistics released by the FBI.
The number of hate crimes in 2016 was 6,121 – about a 5% jump from 2015. About half of those incidents were motivated by race, the agency says.
The latest statistics are based on voluntary reporting from nearly 16,000 US law enforcement agencies.
The FBI did not give a reason for a rise in reported hate crimes.
“No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, of how they worship,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Monday.
Mr Sessions added that he would await a Department of Justice Crime Reduction and Public Safety task force report to determine what actions should be taken to address the increase.
According to the FBI, hate crimes can range from property vandalism to violence and murder.
In incidents where the perpetrators were identified, the FBI found that about 58% of crimes were motivated by the victims’ race, ethnicity or ancestry.
Meanwhile, 21% of crimes were motivated by religion and nearly 18% 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.
The FBI’s report was consistent with a report released earlier this year by a civil rights group that found an apparent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate groups this past year.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit which tracks hate groups, attributed the bump to the 2016 presidential election, in which Donald Trump assailed Muslims and Hispanics as extremists and illegal immigrants. However, no link has been proven between the election and the increase.