Daniel Foggo and Abul Taher, London Times, October 7, 2007
Some Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs.
Some trainee doctors say learning to treat the diseases conflicts with their faith, which states that Muslims should not drink alcohol and rejects sexual promiscuity.
A small number of Muslim medical students have even refused to treat patients of the opposite sex. One male student was prepared to fail his final exams rather than carry out a basic examination of a female patient.
The religious objections by students have been confirmed by the British Medical Association (BMA) and General Medical Council (GMC), which both stressed that they did not approve of such actions.
It will intensify the debate sparked last week by the disclosure that Sainsbury’s is permitting Muslim checkout operators to refuse to handle customers’ alcohol purchases on religious grounds. It means other members of staff have to be called over to scan in wine and beer for them at the till.
Critics, including many Islamic scholars, see the concessions as a step too far, and say Muslims are reneging on their professional responsibilities.
This weekend, however, it emerged that Sainsbury’s is also allowing its Muslim pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning-after pill to customers. At a Sainsbury’s store in Nottingham, a pharmacist named Ahmed declined to provide the pill to a female reporter posing as a customer. A colleague explained to her that Ahmed did not sell the pill for “ethical reasons”. Boots also permits pharmacists to refuse to sell the pill on ethical grounds.
The BMA said it had received reports of Muslim students who did not want to learn anything about alcohol or the effects of over consumption. “They are so opposed to the consumption of it they don’t want to learn anything about it,” said a spokesman.
The GMC said it had received requests for guidance over whether students could “omit parts of the medical curriculum and yet still be allowed to graduate”. Professor Peter Rubin, chairman of the GMC’s education committee, said: “Examples have included a refusal to see patients who are affected by diseases caused by alcohol or sexual activity, or a refusal to examine patients of a particular gender.”
He added that “prejudicing treatment on the grounds of patients’ gender or their responsibility for their condition would run counter to the most basic principles of ethical medical practice”.
Shazia Ovaisi, a GP in north London, said one of her male Muslim contemporaries at medical school failed to complete his training because he refused to examine a woman patient as part of his final exams.
“He was academically gifted, one of the best students, but gradually he got in with certain Islamic groups and started to become more radical,” said Ovaisi.
“You could see there was a change in his personality as time went by. During the final exams he was supposed to treat a female patient in hospital. He refused to do it, even though it would have been a very basic examination, nothing intrusive.
“But he refused and as a result he failed his exams. I was quite shocked and disappointed about it because I don’t see there being anything in our religion that prohibits us from examining male and female patients.”
Both the Muslim Council of Britain and Muslim Doctors and Dentist Association said they were aware of students opting out but did not support them.
Dr Abdul Majid Katme, of the Islamic Medical Association, said: “To learn about alcohol, to learn about sexually transmitted disease, to learn about abortion, it gives us more evidence to campaign against it. There is a difference between learning and practising.
“It is obligatory for Muslim doctors and students to learn about everything. The prophet said, ‘Learn about witchcraft, but don’t practise it’.”
(Posted on October 8, 2007)
I have a policy of never lying to my lawyer, my physician or my priest. This story seems to counteract that by its inverse. Actually, I once told my doctor about certain “illicit” behavior I thought might have been causing my medical condition. He questioned the wisdom of that, asking why I was revealing unlawful behavior to a stranger. I gave it to him with both barrells, shameing him in his own office, asking how the F*&$ he expected to give an intelligent diagnosis, if patients were too scared to reveal all pertinent information about their condition. I then demanded the protection of his oath of both helping the sick and keeping a medical confidence. I think my mother the nurse would have been proud somehow…
Posted by Tim Mc Hugh at 6:38 PM on October 8
“Some trainee doctors say learning to treat the diseases conflicts with their faith, which states that Muslims should not drink alcohol and rejects sexual promiscuity.”
Go to the West End of London and you will see how closely Muslim men follow these 2 articles of their faith…
Posted by at 7:17 PM on October 8
It would be so easy to refuse to qualify these radicals as Drs or refuse to hire them at stores where they would be expected to provide whatever the franchise owner decided to sell. Christians having similar compunctions about providing the morning after pill or perform abortions have had to face hardship in following their beliefs rather than be catered to by the establishment. How has the zeal to create a more egalitarian society resulted in a belief that certain people (whites) should now endure unfair treatment for the greater good?
And, as for the Muslims who refuse to learn anything about alcohol related medical conditions, they are ultimately refusing to treat their own brothers who are indulging in all Western vices to an extreme not seen in the people whose culture tolerates such behavior. This is also a reversal of decades of Muslim immigrants in the US and the UK becoming more assimilated to Western norms by having to adopt aspects of the new culture in order to work and live within it. It’s as if a few radicals have been given the power to destroy all of Western civilization against the will of the majority.
Posted by tj at 7:59 PM on October 8
There is, of course, a perfect solution to this problem…one that should meet with everyone’s approval. Those students, Muslim or otherwise, who cannot pass the examination or refuse to learn their lessons, will not graduate and will not be allowed to practice medicine in the country. Such students would be better advised to attend a medical college in another country and plan to practice medicine where such nonsense is normal. There, you see, not really a problem after all!
Posted by Don Reynolds at 11:54 PM on October 8
Considering that most of Britain’s doctors hail from sub-continental origins, a very thoughtfully applied muslim boycott by medics of practices they consider abhorrent would have a disasterous effect on Britain’s NHS.
Posted by Kenelm Digby at 8:02 AM on October 9
Well, I am sure they plan for their futures to be in A muslim dominated society with sharia laws in place. Therefore, why would they need to treat STD’s and alcohol. Those things will probably be banned. No ?
Posted by at 11:53 AM on October 9
When the story about the med students broke I expected the usual suspects to start whining about “…respecting other cultures and religions”. Instead, EVERYBODY has come down on these students, like a ton of bricks. The general consensus is to expel any med student, and strike off any doctor, who refuses to treat patients who do not conform to the student’s/doctor’s mores.
The backlash is gaining momentum.
Posted by dhimmi-not at 2:01 PM on October 9
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