Fake Incident Report At State Prison Reveals Islamophobic Sentiment | Connecticut Public Radio
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Fake Incident Report At State Prison Reveals Islamophobic Sentiment

May 3, 2021

The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has alerted state officials to an act of anti-Islamic hate speech at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. CAIR-CT sent a letter to Department of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros Sunday and copied it to the Office of the Attorney General. 

In its letter, CAIR-CT said that last month several copies of a fake incident report were found in a printer at the state prison in Cheshire. Hateful language in the report was directed at Shem Brijbilas, a Muslim correctional officer.

Farhan Memon, chairman of CAIR CT, said the document “... contains both offensive language and it also includes coded references to neo-Nazi and white supremacist language.” 

A copy of the fake report provided to Connecticut Public includes Islamophobic and homophobic slurs as well as a condemnation of Muslims in America. 

In his letter, Memon said the incident creates a hostile workplace that is unsafe for both Muslim people who are incarcerated and staff working in the correctional facility. He said the fake incident report could constitute a hate crime. 

According to Memon, Brijbilas experienced a similar type of harassment in 2017. Memon told Connecticut Public that he does not believe the DOC addressed that incident thoroughly.

“Given that in the first instance it was swept under the rug,” Memon said, “I don’t think we can have confidence in the Security Division of the Department of Correction that they are going to handle it appropriately.”

In a letter to Memon Monday, Department of Corrections Commissioner Angel Quiros stated that the "incident was immediately referred to [the DOC’s] Security Division which conducts investigations for the most serious of allegations." Quiros added that the Affirmative Action Unit will also be involved. 

Quiros said that he views the fake report as "...unacceptable and does not represent the correctional professionals that approach public service with dignity, fairness, and inclusion." Additionally, he instructed leadership at Cheshire Correctional Institution to support Brijbilas throughout the process.

The Office of the Attorney General said in a statement that it was aware of the letter and was "deeply troubled by its contents." Officials said they plan to be in contact with the DOC.

This story has been updated to include the response from the Department of Correction.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali covers the Naugatuck River Valley for Connecticut Public Radio. Email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org and follow her on Twitter at @ahleeoh.