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Muslim dentist refuses to treat women patients without burqa

world Updated: May 08, 2009 22:04 IST
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A Muslim dentist has refused to treat women patients unless they wore hijab, the traditional Islamic dress, it was alleged on Friday.

32-year-old Omer Butt ordered women to put on head scarves or he would not register them or their families at his National Health Service-funded clinic.

At least two patients left in pain after they declined to follow his self-imposed rules, the General Dental Council (GDC) heard.

This is the second time the dentist, who is the brother of a former spokesman of the radical Islamic group al-Muhajiroun, has appeared before the Council's disciplinary panel on similar allegations.

Two years ago in 2007, he was reprimanded for telling an Asian mother-of-two that he would not register her unless she wore the Muslim hijab.

The GDC heard how Butt believed it was his duty to stop Muslim patients committing what he believed was a religious sin. He even put a laminated sign on the wall of his waiting room telling patients they would have to adhere to his strict dress code or find another dentist, the Daily Mail reported.

John Snell, for the GDC, said: "He sought to impose a dress code on patients attending his practice. He required that women cover their hair with a head scarf, or hijab, and that male patients remove any gold jewellery. If he had simply expressed a preference, without imposing any compulsion to adhere to this dress code, there may be no cause for complaint.

"However, he insisted - and those who did not comply were refused treatment. He made compliance with Islamic dress code a condition of treatment, which is entirely inappropriate under the auspices of the NHS. Patients should have access to NHS treatment regardless of their religious observance, or otherwise," Snell said.

Butt, of Prestwich, Manchester, denies charges of misconduct for his treatment of patients at the clinic. If found guilty he faces being removed the dental register.

According to a report, a patient, referred to only as F, told how she went with her husband and three children to register as patients at the Unsworth Smile clinic, in Bury, Lancashire, in 2006.

While they were waiting to be seen, Butt called her husband into an office and told him he would have to tell his wife to wear a head scarf or the family would not be seen. They promptly left and made a formal complaint to the NHS.