Muslim civil rights group also ‘encouraged’ that state police are investigating Islamophobic harassment of Muslim officer
(HARTFORD, CT, 5/26/2021) — The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CT) today welcomed the Connecticut Department of Correction’s decision to terminate the employment of Correction Officer Anthony Marlak over an Islamophobic social media post.
In January, CAIR-CT wrote to Commissioner Angel Quiros after receiving information showing that Officer Marlak posted an Islamophobic picture on his Facebook page of five men hanging from a rope by their necks with the caption “Islamic Wind Chimes.”
SEE: Connecticut Prison Guard Placed on Leave, Accused of Anti-Muslim Post
After an investigation, the department determined that Officer Marlak violated numerous policies and dismissed him from State Service for just cause.
SEE: Department of Correction Termination Letter to Officer Anthony Marlak
CAIR-CT also welcomed a decision by the department to refer another case involving the harassment of a Muslim officer by his colleagues to the Connecticut State Police for investigation.
SEE: Connecticut prison officials investigating fake incident report that targeted Muslim correction officer with homophobic, anti-Islamic and white supremacist comments
“This decision to fire Correction Officer Anthony Marlak sends exactly the right message that prejudice and bigotry have no place in the Department of Correction,” said Farhan Memon, Chairman of CAIR-CT. “Correction officers are responsible for the people under their care, and Mr. Marlak’s comments were unacceptable because they suggested that he could be a danger to Muslim inmates.”
Memon said material obtained through an FOI request showed that Officer Marlak was the subject of a complaint by a Muslim inmate alleging that he made disparaging comments about the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
Marlak’s “Islamic Wind Chimes” posting also resulted in workplace conflicts between himself and other Muslim staff. In one instance Marlak was suspended for five days because of an altercation he had with a Muslim staff member.
CAIR-CT also met on Friday May 21 with Commissioner Quiros and Assistant Attorney General Erik Lohr to discuss the matter of Correction Officer Shem Brijbilas.
In April, Officer Brijbilas was subjected to Islamophobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs by as-yet-unknown colleagues who circulated a fake Incident Report.
SEE: CAIR-CT Letter Re. Officer Shem Brijbilas
At the meeting CAIR-CT was told that the Department of Correction has asked the Connecticut State Police to help in the investigation to determine who created and circulated the Islamophobic document. CAIR-CT is calling for it to be investigated as a hate crime.
“This is the second such incident that Officer Brijbilas has been subjected to,” said Memon. “Commissioner Quiros told me that records related to the letter he received in 2017 can’t be found. Given the circumstances I think that State Police may have additional tools and resources that they can use to get to the bottom of this matter.”
CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, proteger las libertades civiles, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR-CT Board Chair Farhan Memon, (203-517-6526 or firstname.lastname@example.org