White supremacist, neo-Nazi, skinhead, and other hate groups have taken to the Internet "with a vengeance", the Simon Weisenthal Centre warned yesterday.
"The lunatic fringe has embraced this new technology with a passion and a frightening degree of sophistication", said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean with the Weisenthal Centre headquarters in Los Angeles.
"A growing number of hate groups are using the Internet to distribute propaganda and recruit young people -- there is an emerging subculture of hate on-line and it's now in the mainstream", said Cooper, who was in town to brief police officials and community groups on the growing problem.
In the past year, the number of hate websites has jumped more than 300%.
Cooper said he expects there will be 1,000 hate sites by the end of the year.
The centre has compiled an interactive CD-ROM called Racism, Mayhem, and Terrorism -- a report on the growth of on-line hate. The Weisenthal Centre is distributing thousands of the CDs to law-enforcement officials, educators, and community groups.
"This is a wake-up call to the industry, government, human rights groups, and families", Cooper said.
All but one Internet provider in Canada has agreed to censor hate groups.