PORTLAND, Maine — City police are increasing security around Muslim gathering places during the final days of Ramadan after The Islamic Society of Portland received a threatening letter this week.

Portland police Lt. Robert Martin issued a news release Friday morning saying the department is working with the U.S. Postal Inspectors and Maine Attorney General’s Office on the case and added that the letter “may have originated overseas.”

“We have been meeting together with leaders on a regular basis and are providing additional patrols around mosques and other Muslim gathering places during Ramadan,” Martin wrote, in part. “We will continue to provide this support to the Muslim community in hopes of instilling a sense of security and to deter further threats. This type of conduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our community.”

Eid el-Fitr, the Islamic holiday which marks the end of the month of Ramadan, will begin at sunset Saturday and continue for three days.

According to the Portland Press Herald, the letter was addressed simply to “Muslim,” and read: “I will enjoy the sight of the blood of you and your fellow vermin running into the streets. It will be a great experience come August. Life will never be the same again.”

Imam El Harith Mohamed told the newspaper that about 500 people worship at the mosque at the edge of Portland’s downtown and that the community is not afraid of the threat. He said they continued to leave the mosque doors open overnight for worshippers to come and go.

One man who visited the Islamic Society on Portland Street to pray Thursday, Zacharia Addan, told the Press Herald, “I feel safe,” adding that the letter “is not going to change the fact that I’ll be coming here — it’s a peaceful place where people take time out of the day to pray to God.”

Martin urged anyone with information that could help track the letter to contact police by calling 207-874-8575.

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Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.