The Niqab in Hospitals – Let Pragmatism and the Needs of the Patient Prevail

19th September 2013
The Muslim Council of Britain has been inundated today with media enquiries concerning the veil, this time in hospitals.

In response, Dr Shuja Shafi, Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain and a senior health professional for many years issued the following statement:

“In the latest twist to the ‘moral panic’ about the niqab, or face veil, many are now getting quite exercised by the possibility of a health professional wearing this in our hospitals.

That this has become an issue is a surprise to all of us. Having worked closely with hospitals and hospital chaplains, we have never been made aware of any concerns or complaints raised about doctors, nurses or healthcare professionals wearing the niqab.

That is primarily because there are few, if any, who do adopt the face veil in hospitals. It is our understanding that Muslim women who do wear the veil are prepared to be pragmatic and take off the veil when required.

For example, a basic security requirement for all hospital workers, without exception is to wear photographic ID. This would be a requirement for people who wear the face veil as well.”

Dr Shuja added: “We are puzzled why the face veil is being made more of an issue than it really is. Surely there are greater concerns we should worry about, such as the quality and provision of care we give to all our patients.”

Earlier this week, Mrs Talat Ahmed, the chairwoman of the Muslim Council of Britain’s Social and Family Affairs Committee said: “every time we discuss the niqab, it usually comes with a diet of bigoted commentary about our faith and the place of Islam in Britain.”

The comments came after a judge ruled that a Muslim woman take off her face veil during the trial. The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed this decision saying the judge made “the right decision by allowing women to wear Niqab and take it off when giving evidence. We should accept that reasonable accommodation has been made to respect her religious rights.”


Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over
500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques,
charities and schools.

For further information please contact:
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330
E1 2WJ
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079

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