Friday Ephemera

Arrogance and Knowledge

In the wake of the “Islam is Peace” PR campaign (discussed here) and Trevor Phillips’ attempts to rewrite history, today’s Times reports on yet another cause of Islam’s image problem:

“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.”

It isn’t clear who is to foot the bill for the additional staffing and training required to accommodate this latest sensitivity, and customers will, it seems, be expected to quietly accept the inconvenience - and the implied insult regarding their choice of beverage. Signs of customer impatience with this unfolding farce risk being construed as ‘Islamophobic’ and thus unspeakably wicked. And it is, I think, unlikely that Sainsbury’s will feel equally obliged to provide a checkout lane for customers who don’t wish to be delayed and inconvenienced by hypersensitive Muslim checkout staff.

“Critics, including many Islamic scholars, see the concessions as a step too far, and say Muslims are reneging on their professional responsibilities.” 

Indeed. Those who presume to inflict their superstitious vanities on others in this way should, of course, be prepared to deal with the practical consequences of that decision, i.e. finding another job more suited to their sensitivities.

“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.”

I wonder how well a Boots or Sainsbury’s customer might fare if they were to raise ethical objections to aspects of Islamic theology and its practical ramifications, say in terms of apostasy, sexual minorities or the retailing of food and medical treatments.

“The BMA said it had 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,’ 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’.” 

Alas, the article doesn’t explore the arrogance that lies behind an assumption that one can claim a qualification that hasn’t actually been earned, or that one is entitled to retain a job one isn’t actually willing to do. But it does, by implication, shed light on practical reasons for the intellectual shortcomings of much of the Islamic world, and their self-inflicted nature.

Related. And. Also.