The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has issued a statement of support for a local Islamic center that received a threatening letter last week.

The letter arrived at the Islamic Society of Portland on June 20. Its contents have prompted the Portland Police Department to launch a hate crime investigation.

Titled “Muslim,” the note said: “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.”

In a statement Tuesday, Bishop Robert Deeley offered his support to the Islamic center, Imam El Harith Mohamed and all those affected by the threat in the letter.

“A threat against one faith is a threat against all who value religious freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution,” the statement reads. “It is foundational to who we are as Americans. As Catholics, our faith in Jesus Christ and the power of his message compels us to stand up in support of that freedom, especially when the threat to its existence also challenges human dignity and the rights supporting and celebrating that dignity.”

Portland police Lt. Robert Martin said the stamps and postmark on the letter have led investigators to believe it was mailed from the United Kingdom. The note is being examined to determine whether it has links to similar threats against Islamic centers or mosques around the country. No further information was available Tuesday about the case.

“We’re still working with federal authorities to see if it matches up with anything they have,” Martin said.

Police consider the threat a hate crime because it targeted a group of people based on their religion. The designation means a perpetrator can face additional punishment if convicted.

Portland police increased patrols around the mosque and other Muslim gathering places in response to the note. Last week, Mohamed said Muslims who worship at the mosque at the edge of the city’s downtown would not let the letter make them fearful. The Islamic Center of Portland has 500 or so members.

“We have been here a long time and we don’t have a problem,” the imam said. “Portland is secure and safe.”

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