A Muslim woman was forced out of her job at a hospital after refusing to bare her arms in order to comply with new hygiene rules.
The radiographer was told by managers at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading that she must either follow the national dress code designed to combat superbugs and roll her sleeves up, or leave.
She refused to abide by the rules and left her job, claiming she was discriminated against and forced to choose between her religious beliefs and her livelihood. Islam teaches that women should dress modestly and cover their bodies while in public.
The woman, who has worked as a therapeutic radiographer for 10 years, has described her situation as a “continuous nightmare” and says she has been “emotionally torn about” over losing her job.
She said that she fears she may not be able to get another job, but has vowed to campaign against the NHS’s “bare below the elbows” policy.
The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she wants to “prevent the policy from being universally applied, so other Muslim women do not experience the same trauma.”
Amid growing concern about the number of patients catching superbugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile while in hospital, the NHS introduced a new dress code for staff in January that was designed to prevent them transmitting bacteria.
The rules require all doctors and nurses who come into contact with patients to have their arms bare below the elbows, by wearing short-sleeved clothes or rolling up their sleeves. Jewellery, watches and false nails were also banned to reduce the risk of infection by staff.
However the policy was criticised by some Muslim doctors and medical students for going against the teachings of the Qu’ran on dress.
By attempting to force hospital administrators to value her religious views over the safety of patients, the Muslim radiographer discriminates against non-Muslims.
Muslims who live in non-Islamic countries must accept the fact that Islam is not the law of the land.
Asking a hospital worker to follow nationwide hygiene rules is not a form of religious discrimination. Rather, it is a sane approach to a serious problem. Rejecting that approach over one’s interpretation of a religious text amounts to religious insanity.