The unrepresentative Dr Katme

By AnthonyLast updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2008 • Save & ShareOne Comment

Fresh from his attempts to suggest vaccines are un-Islamic, Dr Abdul Majid Katme is now saying that it is un-Islamic for female Muslim doctors to expose their forearms and wrists in order to wash their hands in line with NHS policies to prevent “superbug” infections [via B&W).

“No practising Muslim woman – doctor, medical student, nurse or patient – should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow,”

In October of last year, it was reported that a minority of Muslim medical students refused to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcoholism or sexually transmitted diseases, or treat patients of the opposite sex (because it offended their beliefs). Dr Abdul Majid Katme was quoted again, advising medical students not to be selective about their education, because:

“There is a difference between learning and practising.

“It is obligatory for Muslim doctors and students to learn about everything. The prophet said, ‘Learn about witchcraft, but don’t practise it’.”

While his views on education are commendable, his comment about witchcraft cannot be taken as a jokey aside. In a piece on a Family World Wide, a non-Islamic US website, he talks of the UN being run by “a “gang” of extremist feminists” pushing contraception, homosexuality, feminism, lesbianism, single-parent families and gay marriage. It reads like the sort of screed associated with wacko right-wing US militias who think their country is under threat from the New World Order. Interestingly, he is not completely against “vaccines“:

“Dr Abdul Majid Katme, was quoted by Muslim writer Anissa Helie as telling a UK conference: ‘Lesbianism is spreading like fire in society. We must vaccinate our children against this curse.’”

Any female doctors who refuse to bare their forearms because of Dr Katme’s comments, should also remember that he is also against “the facilitation for mothers and wives to go like the men to the labor market”.

The Islamic Medical Association UK has a fairly poor web presence, but Dr Katme is also a member of the Muslim Council of Great Britain’s (MCB’s) Health and Medical Issues Committee. The MCB has been accused of being a reactionary Islamist organisation by Panorama, but have been attempting to improve their public image after being eventually frozen out by the Home Office. Although I am against the idea of self-selecting organisations being seen to represent an entire community, as though they are a homogeneous unthinking monolith, the MCB would seem to have a problem with Dr Katme. There is little evidence that Dr Katme represents more than himself when he represents the Islamic Medical Association UK, but surely the MCB ought to note the entirely negative public relations influence Dr Katme creates?

Newspapers might also reflect on why they give oxygen to such individuals. There are thousands of Muslim doctors in the UK, working for the NHS and doing a great job, who could provide more considered, and less divisive, answers to the concerns about handwashing. Why not speak to them, rather than self-selecting Islamists out to create tension?

One Response to “The unrepresentative Dr Katme”

Comment from teqjack
Time 7/2/2008 at 12:30 am

One might also infom the “doctor” that Islam does not decree things such as covering arms. It depends on which sect of Islam is followed: most do not go so far, it is just that we hear primarily from the ones who do. Think of the Phelps “church”, who at less than 200 strong get more news coverage than the millions of Roman Catholics.

Yes, “modesty” is decreed in the Koran. But at the time, it probably meant covering genitalia and possibly women’s hair. Covering the whole body and face may have derived from these things being a near-necessity in some areas.