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Rep. Maryam Khan assaulted after Muslim service in Hartford

Maryam Khan poll standing in Windsor on the night of her special election in March 2022.
Maryam Khan poll standing in Windsor on the night of her special election in March 2022.

State Rep. Maryam Khan, D-Windsor, the first Muslim elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, was assaulted Wednesday morning while leaving an Eid al-Adha prayer service with her children and sister at the XL Center in downtown Hartford.

Andrey Desmond, 30, of New Britain, was arrested and being detained Wednesday night by Hartford police in connection with the attack. He was charged with 2nd degree unlawful restraint, 3rd degree assault, 2nd degree breach of peace and interfering with police.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said Khan told him that her assailant put her in a headlock, punched her, uttered vulgarities, knocked her to the ground and ran away. Bystanders chased and detained the man about a block south of Dunkin’ Park, at the intersection of Trumbull and North Chapel streets.

Khan wears a traditional Muslim head scarf, but there was no indication that Desmond, who has a record of arrests for minor disturbances and assault, recognized her as a state representative.

The lawmaker was leaving the prayer service with her two daughters, her son, her sister and a female friend when attacked, according to an account by Khan released by the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Khan, her sister and oldest daughter, who is 15, all wore religious head scarves known as hijab, the council said. Khan was treated for injuries at the scene, police said.

The lawmaker could not be reached for comment.

Bronin and House leaders were quick to denounce the attack.

“I was in attendance at the Eid al-Adha prayer service with Representative Khan this morning, and it was a beautiful, peaceful gathering of families coming together in faith and community. I’m deeply troubled by the assault that she endured following the prayer service,” Bronin said.

House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, and House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, issued a joint statement saying, “It is especially painful that Rep. Khan was attacked on a holy day of peace and prayer. On a day she should be spending with her friends and family. Rep. Khan is an amazing leader and person who is committed to faith, love and service — we are sending our well-wishes and support tonight to Maryam and her family.”

Ritter said he spoke with Khan by phone.

Khan won her 5th District seat in a special election on March 1, 2022, succeeding Brandon McGee, who resigned to become political director of Gov. Ned Lamont’s reelection campaign.

Her victory shifted possession of the seat from Hartford to Windsor for the first time since the district was drawn 10 years ago with boundaries favoring Windsor. She was reelected in November to a district that now includes portions of Windsor, Hartford and South Windsor.

She is a former special education teacher at A.I. Prince Technical High School and was vice president of the Windsor Board of Education when elected to the House.

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