Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Medieval customs v. common sense

When Muslims in Britain and elsewhere seek special accommodations for their religious beliefs, it's usually something silly and innocuous that can be chuckled at, but easily agreed to. Sure, go ahead and put little arrows on the ceiling pointing to Mecca. This latest from the Daily Mail, though, shows just how fundamentally incompatible Islamic practices often are with modern-day necessities. Note that I don't say incompatible with "western values" in this case. We're talking universal standards. Or what should be universal standards, anyway.

Muslim medical practitioners and students in Britain are objecting to a mandate for bare arms below the elbow on the grounds that it's 'immodest'. The mandate is obviously necessary for proper scrubbing and to prevent the spread of infection while treating patients.
Health officials are having crisis talks with Muslim medical staff who have objected to hospital hygiene rules because of religious beliefs.

Medics in hospitals in at least three major English cities have refused to follow the regulations aimed at helping tackle superbugs because of their faith, it has been revealed.

Women medical students at Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool objected to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands and removing arm coverings in theatre, claiming it is regarded as immodest.

Similar concerns were raised at Leicester University and Sheffield University reported a case of a Muslim medic refusing to "scrub" because it left her forearms exposed.

[ ... ]

Dr Charles Tannock, a Conservative MEP and former hospital consultant, said: "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."

But the Islamic Medical Association insisted that covering all the body in public, except the face and hands, was a basic tenet of Islam.

It said: "No practising Muslim woman - doctor, medical student, nurse or patient - should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow."
Can't lift more than 50 pounds? Don't pursue a career in warehouse work. Can't bare your arms? Don't pursue a career in medicine.

At what point does one stand up and say enough is enough?

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