A morgue doctor was suspended from her position with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for two weeks after colleagues filed a complaint that she made insensitive comments while performing an autopsy, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Medical examiner Sandra Thomas was performing a postmortem exam on a woman on March 19 when she asked a fellow doctor if she knew how to do a "Muslim autopsy." Thomas, who joined the agency in 2014 and has never had complaints made about her in the past, then lifted the neck of the woman and made a howling sound called an ululation. Ululations are common at funerals and weddings in the Middle East.
Thomas, according to records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, repeated the comments to another doctor. The woman whose body Thomas was working on was not Muslim.
During an investigation, Thomas said that she regretted the joke. She was suspended without pay from April 29 to May 10.
"Your comments were extremely unprofessional, disrespectful and insensitive to those around you," agency director Vic Reynolds wrote in a letter on March 29. Thomas, along with her suspension, signed a document that stated another inappropriate action would result in her termination.
While other employees wondered if Thomas made the joke to cope with the stress of a busy morgue, they do not believe she made the comments to degrade the Muslim faith.
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, a former prosecutor and executive director of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the outlet that he doesn't think the light punishment is suitable for Thomas' actions.
"A two-week suspension for playing with a dead body while mocking a faith community seems like a remarkably light punishment," Mitchell said. "If playing with a dead body during an autopsy is not a fireable offense by itself, I do not know what is."
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