CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The head of the Islamic Center of Charlotte is speaking out after the center received a letter threatening physical violence against Muslims.
According to the center's director Jibril Hough, the letter was just one of several sent to Islamic centers around North Carolina.
Hough called the letter a "pretty detailed threat" and said the threat was serious enough that Charlotte police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations are now investigating the letter.
The letter, according to Hough, came from a person who claimed to be "part of a large network of folks from the business community, from the public services community, from the public school community that is seeking to make life harder on the public square for Muslims."
Hough says he contacted authorities about the letter on Friday and the FBI was already investigating because of letters sent to other Islamic centers across the state. Hough says he knows the center in Raleigh received the same letter and hopes it will get the same attention as if it was any other house of worship.
"We all need the same protection, under the law, as citizens. We all need that," he told WBTV. "We deserved the same attention as anyone would receive. We're not trying to make more out of this than it deserves, but we're also concerned that it gets the attention it truly deserves."
Hough says it isn't unusual for the center to get, what he calls, "minor threats" based on current events, but this letter appears to be more serious.
"It goes on to give some very derogatory and racial epitaphs, using the 'N' word a couple of times in different phrases, Hough says. "And then it ends with the threat that if we decide for any kind of retaliation based on this letter - that they have no problem killing Muslims legally, if we tried anything, so consider yourselves advised."
The letter ends, in part, "We are prepared for the Muslim war that is going on overseas to begin in the streets right here."
It was signed, but Hough says he doesn't know if the name on the letter is actually the person who wrote it.
"We have to remain vigilant and we have to give this the attention that it deserves," Hough says. "Not sweep it under the rug or ignore it, because who knows? It could more than just a lonely guy in the middle of the night typing up a letter just to let off some steam. It could be much more than that."
Hough says so far it's not clear what the motivation behind the letter is, but he is hoping that authorities will find out as a part of their investigation. He also hopes the letter writer will be prosecuted.
"We think that putting an extra eye on something like this - sometimes it helps. A lot of times these types of things go unnoticed and unheard of and you only maybe hear about something after the fact," he said.
"We don't want to wait until after the fact that something has actually taken place - something much more harmful than this letter."