News from the UK: Rules of the Koran are more important than hygiene, according to UK’s Islamic Medical Society. Actually, make that cultural standards, not Koranic rules, since the Koran itself doesn’t really specify the precise nature of modest women’s clothing. The imams have just taught that whatever they wore in Mohammed’s time has to have been the heavenly standard. Sort of like chronological snobbery taken to the extreme.

But yes. Now religious scruples trump scientific principles, and keeping a few inches of your skin covered is more important than taking good care of your patients. One wonders why these women are involved in health professions, anyway. Do they not find it disturbing, or at least hypocritical, to be looking at naked male patients, while they refuse to lift their sleeves enough to wash properly?

Here in the US, there’s an uproar if Christian pharmacists propose not to dispense abortifacient drugs due to their religious principles. And all they’re doing is offering a slight obstruction to health care (if you insist on calling the destruction of life health care) (and yes, this is weighted language to be using about RU-486). But it seems to be all right, at least by Muslim standards, to downright forcibly endanger your patient’s health because you’re so concerned about letting your wrists be seen in public.

I have some pretty high standards of modesty myself, but this is ridiculous and hypocritical. Let’s see whether the UK health community is able to respond appropriately, or whether the once-proud Britons have truly become slaves, the new dhimmis. (Which is the Arabic word for conquered peoples who are allowed a few protections as second-class citizens as long as they submit to all Islamic laws.)

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