Dentist in Islamic headscarf row

A dentist in Greater Manchester refused to treat a female Muslim patient unless she wore an Islamic headscarf, a disciplinary panel has heard.

Dr Omer Butt told the woman she could not register at his Prestwich practice unless she covered her hair, the Professional Conduct Committee heard.

The committee heard the patient was left “humiliated and upset” but agreed as she wanted treatment for toothache.

Dr Butt denies refusing to treat the woman unless she wore a headscarf.

The panel was told that Dr Butt, who ran Unsworth Smile clinic on Parr Lane in Prestwich, later quoted Islamic Sharia law on appropriate relationships between men and women to the woman.

John Snell, for the General Dental Council, told the committee that the patient was told by one dental nurse that inside the surgery was ‘Dr Butt’s world’ and that his rules applied.

The woman registered at the surgery because it was nearer her home but she told the panel that when she telephoned for an appointment she was told they required Muslim women to wear the headscarf and Muslim men not to wear gold jewellery.

Although “taken aback” by the rules, she told the panel she made an appointment for 18 April 2005 and wore conservative black clothes.

The committee heard that upon arrival, she was taken to an X-ray room where Dr Butt laid down the rules of his practice and asked whether she was a Muslim.

“He said that part of their practice was for women who came to the practice to wear headscarves,” the woman told the panel.

The committee heard that the woman agreed to this and was given a scarf by one of his assistants.

However, she told the panel she decided to leave after being told she must return to the waiting room wearing the scarf before receiving treatment.

“When I was told to wait in the waiting area I thought, I have already tolerated an enormous degree of humiliation. I removed the headscarf and told the nurse I was leaving,” she said.

Dr Butt admits quoting Islamic scripture to the woman but denies refusing to treat the woman unless she wore a headscarf.

The case continues.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday September 25, 2007.
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