You just knew that the Daily Mail wouldn’t be able to leave the Christian Nurse banned from wearing crucifix story alone. First they got a Muslim to be outraged on behalf of Christians, now they have found some evidence that Muslims get special treatment in the NHS and that Christians really are being victimised: ‘NHS relax superbug safeguards for Muslim staff… just days after Christian nurse is banned from wearing crucifix for health and safety reasons‘.
The story is based on the news that female Muslims will ‘be permitted to cover their arms on hospital wards to preserve their modesty. This is despite earlier guidance that all staff should be “bare below the elbow” after long sleeves were blamed for spreading bacteria, leading to superbug deaths’. Furthermore the Mail points out that it has also relaxes its ‘no jewellery’ rule by allowing Sikhs to wear bangles, as long as they can be pushed up the arm during direct patient care.
The article then wheels out the normal Christian organisations and nurse Shirley Chaplin of banned crucifix fame to argue that this is absolute proof that the NHS is picking on Christians and bending over to other faiths. But is it?
The truth of the matter – as to be expected with a Mail article – is very different. Firstly, this isn’t necessarily a relaxing of ‘superbug safeguards’, rather it is a compromise based on best practice. For example, the Daily Mail links female Muslim modesty with poor hygiene – the comments underneath the article are full of people who claim that they will now refuse to be treated by Muslims in case they catch superbugs. However, if you actually read the article it is clear that we are not talking about long sleeves in the traditional sense. If a female Muslim wishes to cover her arms they can use disposable ‘over-sleeves’, which come with strict hygiene instructions for their use.
As the Daily Mail points out, the over-sleeves are available on the Internet for £7 for a pack of 200, so it’s hardly going to break the NHS financially.
Secondly, the bracelets that are worn for religious reasons must be pushed up the arm and secured in place for hand-washing and direct patient care.
The key word here is compromise. Shirley Chaplin refused to compromise, even though the NHS offered her different ways of wearing the crucifix that would be acceptable. Furthermore, the crucifix is a religious accessory, not necessity, and you could argue not a particularly good one. I have a great deal of sympathy for female Muslims, as an atheist I find their treatment by the religion abhorrent. I have witnessed first hand the repression of female Muslims, and to equate the forced religious repression of female Muslims to a Christian woman who merely wanted to wear a crucifix is pretty depressing.
If some simple compromises can be made – with hygiene at the forefront of considerations – that allows female Muslims to pursue a career in the NHS, then what can the problem be? Make no mistake, this Mail article is as usual a crude attack on minority faiths that tries to rile up yet more hatred and intolerance of other religions. Like the BNP the Daily Mail really believes that it is white Christians who are really the victims here, as always in New Labour’s Britain, irrespective of reality.
Thanks to uncompromising faux victims like Shirley Chaplin and the Daily Mail’s skewered attacks on Muslim nurses there are now people who claim they will refuse to be treated by Muslims in the NHS – be they doctors or nurses. I wonder if I’m alone in my personal observations that people I overhear are becoming increasingly less tolerant and more openly hostile to people of different nationalities, colour or faith. How long before racism becomes acceptable in public? How long before the majority of white British people really believe that they are victimised and that they have to fight back?
Funnily enough I didn’t see the Mail cover this story recently, which seems strange considering they should be taking a large chunk of credit for it:
Police are searching for a gang of about 20 Derby men after an attack on a Muslim couple on a train to Nottingham.
Abida Malik said the men called her and her husband Asif Ahmed terrorists. One man put Mr Ahmed in a headlock saying he was making a citizen’s arrest.