Islamists in the Hospital Ward
by Daniel Pipes
A number of incidents show the striking incompatibility of Islamism with modern medicine. Examples are listed in reverse chronological order, as they occur:
Only halal medicines from halal pharmacists: Burak Bekdil documents Islamist purism in Turkey at "The Nutty Surgeon," proving that one need not live in a Western country to follow this course. (July 12, 2013)
An Islamist surgery center in Chicago: It was inevitable: not fitting into normal medical facilities, Islamists would build their own. (The Muslim Community Center Medical Clinic of Silver Spring, Maryland, open since 2003, does not appear to be Islamist.) Dr. Naser Rustom, an internist, plans to build Preferred Surgicenter, a $5.5 million surgical center, in a former furniture store in the Chicago suburb of Orland Park. Claire Bushey reports in Crain's Chicago Business that Rustom, who completed his residency at Cook County Hospital in 1992, is a 1984 graduate of the University of Damascus. The application to open the center indicates it will provide services in gastroenterology, general surgery, and pain management. It indicates that patients of all religious and cultural backgrounds will be treated and the center will be similar to other surgery centers except "to the trained eye." Robin Fina, the center's future manager, says that interaction between the sexes will be kept "at a modest level." (April 28, 2013) May 15, 2013 update: The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board voted unanimously, with one member absent, that it "intends to reject" Rustom's application, with a final decision in June or August. One board member, Alan Greiman of Wilmette, asked about Shari'a; but the decision apparently had more to do with an analysis by the board's staff which found that the Orland Park area already has enough surgery providers.
Abdul Bhutto, agency nurse in South Yorkshire, England.
Abdul Bhutto, agency nurse in South Yorkshire, England.
Over half of Flemands prefer their physician not to be Muslim: The survey firm GfK Significant found the number of Dutch-speaking who prefer not to be treated by a Muslim doctor to be 53 percent. (January 17, 2012)
Muslim husband jailed for punching nurse during childbirth: Already been expelled from the delivery room in Marseille for calling the midwife a "rapist" as she examined his wife's genitals, Nassim Mimoune, 24, saw the nurse removing his wife's burqa, so he smashed open the locked door and hit the nurse in the face, leading to his arrest for assault and being jailed for six months. The judge admonished him yesterday: "Your religious values are not superior to the laws of the [French] republic." The wife gave birth to a baby boy. (December 22, 2011
Muslim students boycott classes on evolution: Muslim students, including trainee doctors, at University College London refuse to attend lectures dealing with evolution, arguing that Darwinist theory conflicts with the Koran. Comment: One wonders if they also boycott the books and don't study for exams. (November 27, 2011)
Male Swedish doctor assaulted during childbirth: Rushing to the delivery room at Örebro University Hospital on November 6 to help acritically ill woman who had just given birth, a Swedish doctor was assaulted by her male relatives who objected to his being male. The husband screamed at the doctor and ordered him to leave the room at once; when the doctor refused and went to the patient to examine her, "He was attacked by the husband and received a kick to the groin," a local newspaper was told. In addition, the husband's brother attacked the doctor from behind.
Police took the relatives from the premises; the mother was removed for an operation; and the hospital reiterated its policy of staff not being selected for tasks according to gender. (November 19, 2010)
Search underway for a halal meningitis vaccine: Oddly, Indonesia is the one country where the porcine basis of meningitis vaccines is an issue. Despite efforts to find a halal seed, none yet has succeeded. Iskandar, president director of Bandung-based PT Bio Farma, a state-owned vaccine and serum producer, noted that "In Saudi Arabia, the vaccine did not spark a debate. In Malaysia, it is also no longer an issue." Ironically, pilgrims to Mecca must take the vaccine, per orders from the Saudi Arabia authorities. (August 9, 2010)
Advice for health care personnel: The Journal of Medical Ethics published an article by Aasim I. Padela, an emergency room physician at the University of Michigan, who discusses dilemmas that observant Muslim patients present. He argues that maintaining standards of modesty is the "overarching Islamic ethic" consideration. (November 1, 2010)
Islamist patient triumphant in Canada: In a small vignette that captures the essence of Islamist supremacism, Muslim parents of a new-born in Kingston General Hospital in Kingston, Ontario, unilaterally decided in November 2009 that the fathers of the other two infants could not be present while the Muslim mother breastfed her child, nor could they use the sink in the shared bathroom to clean their babies and themselves.
When one of the non-Muslim couples, John Kennedy and Brigitte Robinson, complained about this situation, especially as Kennedy was providing most of the care to baby Leah after Robinson's Caesarian and could not be forced out of the hospital room again and again, they were moved out to another room, a private one.
After leaving the hospital, the Kennedys got a bill for the upgraded room: C$750 for three nights' stay. They have refused to pay it. The hospital insists they must pay. The impasse continues. (August 1, 2010)
Burqas present problems for medical personnel: France's Europe1 channel explains in "Les médecins face à la burqa" (Doctors confronting the burqa) that patients wearing it makes it "impossible to verify the identity of the patient or her state of health." Further, it complicates matters during surgery or giving birth. (July 13, 2010)
British female Muslim doctors permitted disposable sleeves: The Department of Health guidelines require medical staff caring for patients to "bare below the elbows," thus insuring against contaminated sleeves while facilitating thorough hand washing. But some female Muslim staff consider the exposure of their forearms immodest and occasionally have refused to expose their arms, even for hand washing or pre-surgery "scrubbing in."
Working with the Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS as well as Islamic scholars, chaplains, multi-faith representatives, and infection control experts, the DoH has issued new guidelines that permit staff to wear disposable sleeves elasticated at the wrist and elbow. Further, Muslim staff can wear full length sleeves when not directly giving patient care, so long as it is not loose or dangling and can be pulled back for hand washing and direct patient care. (March 27, 2010)
Burqa banned in Bangladeshi hospital: Bangladesh has one of the world's largest Muslim populations and Islam serves as the state religion – but still, the Bangabandhu Medical University Hospital in Dhaka, the country's largest state-run hospital, has banned its staff from wearing burqas. The administration gave three reasons: (1) a rash of thefts of mobile phones and wallets; (2) unqualified "proxy workers" taking the place of legitimate personnel, giving the latter time off; and, (3) according to senior administrator Abdul Majid Bhuiyan, "burqa-clad women who travel to work on crowded public buses [and] then do not change into regulation uniform could carry diseases into the hospital." Female staff must wear standard uniforms that cover neither hair nor face while on duty.
Comment: Ironic, no, that burqas are banned in Bangladeshi wards but advancing in British ones? (March 22, 2010)
Islamists can cover arms, Christian banned from wearing crucifix: The Mail on Sunday has a long story by Jonathan Petre contrasting two developments, "NHS relax superbug safeguards for Muslim staff ... just days after Christian nurse is banned from wearing crucifix for health and safety reasons." It's quite a mix of Islamist supremacism and British dhimmitude.
The former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, observed of these developments that "The Muslim voice is very strong, so politicians and others are scared of it. We can only deduce that the hostility aimed at her is because she is a Christian." (April 11, 2010)
Jihad? Go elsewhere: In a reversal of the usual pattern, an unnamed orthodontist in southern Germany refused to treat a 16-year-old boy named Jihad, taking offense at his name. But she changed her mind and said she regretted her action. "He can't help it if his parents named him so." (February 6, 2010)
Accident victims irate over paramedic assistance: A car flipped in Melton, Victoria, not far from Melbourne, injuring eight. Islamism reared its ugly head, as Anthony Dowsley relates: A private ambulance crew of two paramedics stopped to help with a road accident. One of them, Rian Holden,
(September 22, 2009)
Muslim nurse in Netherlands fired for not wearing short sleeves: A Muslim woman, now 33 years old and working since 2001 as a nurse in the Den Bosch hospital, became increasingly engaged in her faith until in 2007 she started wearing long sleeves under her uniform. In April 2008, the hospital dismissed her on account of this insistence. The nurse lodged legal complaints. A judge has sided with the hospital that, for medical reasons, she needed to bare her arms but he did award €8,500 in compensation. (July 25, 2009)
(May 7, 2009) July 2, 2009 update: The General Dental Council ruled yesterday that Butt's behavior demonstrated "professional immaturity" and will consider banning him from the profession. Chairwoman Gill Brown admonished him: "you regarded yourself as a Muslim first and a dentist second and it is clear that you were using your position as a dentist to seek to influence patients as to non-clinical issues." It came out in the course of the hearing that Butt kept a box of spare hijabs in his clinic. It also came out that one woman acceded to the hijab but rebelled when Butt asked her son if he prayed before deciding what treatment to give him. Butt proceeded to give the boy a composite filling rather than a silver one.
Dutch Muslims want sex-separated hospital rooms: As reported in BN DeStem, Muslim organizations in the Dutch town of Breda are demanding that men and women at Amphia Hospital not be roomed together. "Many Muslim women don't think it's nice based on religious conviction to have a half-naked man in the bed next to them," says a spokesman for the Immigrant Council and the Aarahman mosque. Sex-separate rooms were usual in Dutch hospitals until recently but coed rooms are now the rule. (April 23, 2009) Apr. 24, 2009 update:Raymond Ibrahim ties this demand to the Shari'a by quoting me, making a point I myself had not thought of:
Dutch Islamists refuse pain treatment: Recalling that the Koran says one must be alert before Allah, some Muslims are refusing palliative care, fearing that it would leave them drowsy on their death beds. Prof. Wouter Zuurmond of the Vrije Universiteit Medisch Centrum in Amsterdam has seen this pattern while working at the Kuria Hospice, which he manages. He finds the situation frustrating, knowing as he does that pain management need not make one drowsy. Accordingly, VUMC organized a symposium on March 29 about providing palliative care to Muslim patients. (March 31, 2009)
Amniotic fluid check to abort females: This update concerns Muslims in general, not specifically Islamists, for it concerns the deep cultural demand for mothers to produce sons. That demand takes on new forms when modern tests are available in the West. Consider the news from Sweden, where mothers are aborting healthy female fetuses:
(February 22, 2009)
Muslima refuses to bare arms below elbow, loses job: An unnamed female Muslim therapeutic radiographer lost her job of six weeks at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading for refusing to comply with the National Health Service's new "bare below the elbows" hygiene rules designed to combat superbugs. Prompted by concerns about patients catching superbugs (MRSA, Clostridium difficile) while in the hospital, the NHS introduced a new dress code for staff in January 2008 to avoid transmitting bacteria. All doctors and nurses in contact with patients must bare their arms below the elbow. The ban also extends to jewelry, watches, and false nails.
Claiming she was discriminated against and forced to choose between her religious beliefs and her livelihood, she refused to bare her arms and instead left her job. She describes her situation as having been a "continuous nightmare" and fears she may not be able to get another job. Still, she plans to campaign against the NHS policy because she wants to "prevent the policy from being universally applied, so other Muslim women do not experience the same trauma."
The Islamic Medical Association sympathizes with the woman. Its spokesman, Majid Katme, said that "Any practising Muslim woman should have the right to cover her arms, as long as her job doesn't jeopardise the care of the patient. What's the harm in somebody in her position covering their arms, as people in radiography have done for some time?" (September 1, 2008)
Muslim husband attacks male gynecologist: An unnamed husband attacked a gynecologist, David Benyaoun, as he was treating a complex birth at the Hôpital de l'Hôtel Dieu in Lyons, France. (August 4, 2008)
American Muslima medical student refuses male patients: Patrick Poole documents in "CAIR's Medical School Grievance Theater" how Iram Qureshi of Dublin, Ohio, dismissed from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine last month for her poor academic record, has turned to the Council on American-Islamic Relations and sued the school. Her attorney has raised allegations of religious discrimination, such as her reluctance to conduct chest and pelvic examinations on male subjects. (July 17, 2008)
French Muslim couple fined for refusing male doctor at childbirth: A French Muslim couple sued a hospital in Bourg-en-Bresse in eastern France for 100,000 after their son, Mohammed Ijjou, was born heavily handicapped on November 8, 1998, as a result of neurological complications during birth. Instead, the couple found itself fined 1,000 because the father, Radouane Ijjou, physically barred a male doctor from entering his wife's room for half an hour to carry out tests, citing religious reasons, after a midwife asked for help with the wife's labor. The court in Lyon found that "the child's condition is totally due to the attitude of Radouane Ijjou"; had the doctor been allowed in, the texts could have prevented the complications. Therefore, the hospital could not be held responsible. (June 11, 2008)
British female Muslim doctors "must remove veil": New guidelines issued yesterday by the UK's General Medical Council (in a document titled Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice) requires doctors to set aside personal and cultural preferences. Specfically, under the general guideline that religious clothing must not impede trust and communication with patients, female Muslim doctors must be prepared to remove their veil to treat patients effectively:
The Muslim Council of Britain endorsed the guidance, so long as it permits female doctors to wear a hijab, which does not cover the face. The chairman of the MCB's medical committee, Abdullah Shehu, explained: "While wearing a veil does not preclude someone from practising medicine, there is no harm in removing it where the ability to communicate or care for the patient is compromised. The Muslim community very much welcomes this guidance." (March 18, 2008)
British female Muslim medics refuse to battle superbugs: Crisis talks are underway with medical staff who object to hospital hygiene rules because of their understanding of Islamic modesty regulations. The new breed of superbugs, such as such as MRSA and Clostridium difficle, require medical personnel to roll up their sleeves when washing their hands and to remove arm coverings when in the operating room. But female medics in hospitals in at least three major English cities (Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool, Leicester University hospital, and Sheffield University hospital) have refused to follow the "bare below the elbows" dress code, on the grounds that this is immodest.
Some students have threatened to quit their course work rather than expose their arms. They won support from the Islamic Medical Association, which holds that women covering all their body in public, except for the face and hands, is a basic tenet of Islam. "No practising Muslim woman – doctor, medical student, nurse, or patient – should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow."
In contrast, the medical director at Alder Hey, Dr. Steve Ryan, emphasized that "We specify bare below elbows, no wrist watches, nail varnish or false nails in clinical areas. Good hand hygiene is one of the most important and simplest actions we can take to prevent healthcare associated infections.' He added that "A number of female Muslim students had approached the University of Liverpool to ask if we would provide facilities for them to change their outerwear and hijab for theatre scrubs. We were pleased to accommodate this request and these facilities have now been incorporated."
Dr. Charles Tannock, a Conservative MEP and former hospital consultant, took a tougher stand: "These students are being trained using taxpayers' money and they have a duty of care to their patients not to put their health at risk. Perhaps these women should not be choosing medicine as a career if they feel unable to abide by the guidelines everyone else has to follow." (February 27, 2008)
Belgian Muslimas may not refuse male doctors: Going in precisely in the opposite direction from their Dutch counterparts, the Belgian gynecological association has issued a code of conduct for patients that takes away their right to refuse a male doctor in emergency childbirths. Women coming in to give birth will have to sign the code to be serviced. Johan Van Wiemeersch, chairman of the association, warns that the police can be called in if the patient (or her husband) then reneges on the agreement. (February 2, 2008)
Dutch Muslimas may refuse male doctors: The Dutch physicians organization, Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot bevordering der Geneeskunst, has issued new guidelines, following an incident in an Amersfoort hospital when a pregnant Muslim woman refused treatment by a male gynecologist. The guidelines urge hospitals, except in emergency cases, to find ways to fulfill Islamist women's wishes. (December 18, 2007) Feb. 8, 2008 update: The KNMG requires patients who want to be treated by a doctor of one or other gender to state this when making an appointment, or else the preference is not operational. Also, this choice is limited to the sex of the doctor and cannot extend to skin color, political conviction, or religion.
Muslim husband ejects male anesthetist from the operating room: Hospital personnel are not the only Islamists in the wards. Here's a case of a patient's husband from Bree, Belgium: When a pregnant Muslim arrived late at night needing an emergency Caesarean, the hospital called Dr. Philippe Becx to serve as anesthetist.
Despite all this, the Caesarean was succesful. (October 27, 2007)
British Muslim medical students reject kafir ways: In a report by Daniel Foggo and Abul Taher in the The Sunday Times (London), we learn that
The British Medical Association has received reports of Muslim students who did not want to learn anything about alcohol or the effects of overconsumption. "They are so opposed to the consumption of it they don't want to learn anything about it." (October 7, 2007)
Doctor urges Muslims to shun haram vaccines: Dr. Abdul Majid Katme, a psychiatrist who has worked in the National Health Service for 15 years and heads the Islamic Medical Association, wants British Muslims not to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, rubella, MMR, diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, and meningitis. He argues, writes Abul Taher in London's Sunday Times, that these and almost all vaccines contain products derived from proscribed animal or human tissue, making them haram, or unlawful, for Muslims. "Many vaccines, especially those given to children, are full of haram substances — human parts, gelatine from pork, alcohol, animal/monkey parts, all coming from the West who do not have knowledge of halal or haram. It is forbidden in Islam to have any of these haram substances in our bodies."
Instead of relying on vaccines, Katme wants Muslims to let their children develop their own immune system naturally. Leading "Islamically healthy lives," he believes, is enough to ward off illnesses and diseases. "You see, God created us perfect and with a very strong defence system. If you breast-feed your child for two years — as the Koran says — and you eat Koranic food like olives and black seed, and you do ablution each time you pray, then you will have a strong defence system." (January 28, 2007)
The UK National Health Service should provide Muslims with faith-based services: So argues Aziz Sheikh, professor of primary care research and development at the University of Edinburgh (and an activist in the Muslim Council of Britain), calling for doctors of the same gender as their patients and helping patients "avoid porcine and alcohol derived drugs." (January 13, 2007)
Male refused treatment by female doctors: A 17-year-old male shepherd from Konya, Turkey, referred to only as "A.G.," arrived at the Konya Testing Hospital complaining of swollen testicles. He was sent to get ultrasound tests, but two headscarved (i.e., Islamist) female radiology doctors refused him service. Not receiving proper attention, A.G. later had one of his testicles removed by operation. The case has provoked much attention. The hospital's head of urology, Celal Tutuncu, portrayed the case as very "black and white," and said that action would be taken. Members of the opposition CHP party raised the case in parliament in December 2006. A CHP lawyer, Atilla Kart, noted that "This is the destruction wrought by religious references spilling over into public administration."
Male relatives preventing female patients from being treated by male doctors: So rampant is the problem in France of Muslim husbands preventing their wives and other female relatives from being treated by male doctors (for example, women in labor have not had epidurals because the anesthetist was a man) that Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin reportedly planned in February 2004 to propose legislation to stop this from happening (how he plans to do this is not explained). (December 29, 2006)
Hijabs during surgery: Sabrina Talukdar, 25, a medical student at the University of St Andrews, convinced the British Medical Association to permit sterile hijabs in the operating theater. She argued that this measure was necessary in order not to prevent some women from entering medical careers. "I think some in the medical profession get put off by this, and I can certainly see it stopping some from entering medicine." She also suggested that screens be put up so that Muslim women personnel can wash in private before preparing for an operation. "It is about making people feel more comfortable. Such straightforward innovations would do wonders for the morale of staff and students." (June 29, 2005)
"'Offensive' hospital bibles may be banned": The University of Leicester NHS Trust is considering the removal of Gideon Bibles from its wards at three hospitals, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester Royal Infirmary, and Glenfield Hospital. Nick Britten explains in the Daily Telegraph that the trust is concerned that the hospital's non-Christian patients might be offended by the presence of Bibles. Interestingly, Suleman Nagdi of Leicestershire's Federation of Muslim Organisations commented on the possible ban: "This is a Christian country and it would be sad to see the tradition end." And Resham Singh Sandu, the Sikh chairman of the local Council of Faiths, added: "I don't think many ethnic minority patients would object to the Bible in a locker." Comment: This case concerns not Islamists in the ward but what I like to call pre-emptive dhimmitude. (June 3, 2005) May 14, 2006 update: At least two hospitals in Australia, the Royal Brisbane and Women's and the Royal Melbourne, have stopped providing Bibles, in part because they could spread germs and are supposedly present a health hazard.
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