Portland police are investigating three recent incidents tied to a local mosque as potential hate crimes against Maine’s Muslim community, a police spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.

Members of the Omar Bin Alkhetab Masjid, the mosque at 978 Washington Ave., reported to police on Aug. 2 that a video had been shared on social media showing someone burning a copy of the Quran, said Major Robert Martin. A link to the video, taken in late July, had been emailed to a member of the mosque, he said.

Police are investigating three recent potential hate crimes related to the mosque at 978 Washington Ave., Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Martin said police also are investigating a second video, which appears to show that someone entered the mosque in April and recorded details of the interior while livestreaming with others on WhatsApp, an international private messaging platform.

A third incident occurred on or before Aug. 5, when Portland police responded to a report that a threatening message had been spray-painted on the street near the home of a Muslim family, Martin said.

Martin declined to provide additional information, including who might be responsible for the videos and street graffiti, because the incidents are part of an active investigation, he said.

If investigators determine that a crime has occurred, they will submit the case for prosecution by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office under Maine’s Criminal Code, and by the Maine Attorney General’s Office under Maine’s Human Rights Act, Martin said.


Attorney Gen. Aaron Frey declined to comment on an active investigation.

A hate crime is criminal conduct motivated by bias, according to the website of the Attorney General’s Office. When a person or property affected by a crime is chosen because of race, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, disability or sexual orientation, that bias can be considered a factor in sentencing.

Under Maine law, a person may not attempt to, threaten to or intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere with or oppress any other person in the free exercise of any privilege provided under state or federal laws. Violation of this statute is a Class D crime punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

If investigators determine that no crime was committed, their findings will be submitted for review by the Attorney General’s Office, Martin said.

Leaders of Maine’s Afghan community, who oversee the mosque, either declined or didn’t respond to requests to discuss the incidents.

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