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Friday, 15 May 2009
Muslim doctor claims discrimination over Friday prayers

I spotted this story in the Yorkshire Evening Post yesterday and thought it was one worth watching. The Telegraph and the BBC both carry it this morning with more detail and an interesting difference in headlines. According to the BBC "City surgery 'bullied' Muslim GP". The Telegraph and the YEP are on the lines of "Muslim Doctor alleges discrimination". Hum.
A Muslim doctor who was dismissed from her job claims she was discriminated against because she wanted to attend a mosque for prayers every Friday, a tribunal has heard.
Doctor Musarrat Syed-Shah, 31, is alleging religious discrimination and victimisation against four partners from the North Leeds Medical Practice after her partnership agreement was terminated on August 8 last year.
The employment tribunal in Leeds heard that Dr Syed-Shah claims the other doctors were "unhappy" about her attending the weekly prayers.
Michael McDonough, for Dr Syed-Shah, told the tribunal: "They were unhappy with her attending the mosque for Friday prayers and they applied a condition to her which was not applied to anyone else by saying they were not allowed to leave the surgery between sessions."
Mr McDonough continued: "Following the notice of termination on August 8, she was expressly forbidden from going to the mosque from August 8 till the end of her contract."
Dr Syed-Shah also claims she was victimised after refusing to see both her own and another GP's patients while covering for that doctor's surgery. The solicitor added that Dr Syed-Shah had also suffered repetitive strain injury, which she believed was as a result of undertaking four-hour telephone consultation sessions with patients.
She claims complaints about these health problems also led to her victimisation at the practice.
Dr Syed-Shah described herself in her evidence as a "devout" Muslim who had been on a pilgrimage to Mecca before taking up the post at the practice and prayed five times a day. She said she had attended mosques on Fridays throughout her adult life.
On being given the job, Dr Syed-Shah said she requested Fridays off but was told it was not convenient. When Dr Purewal (one of the other partners, Dr Manjit Purewal) later asked her to take on an extra shift on Fridays, meaning she would have to work for more than nine hours without a break and miss prayers, she objected and was accused of not pulling her weight.
Dr Syed-Shah said: "I felt that this was an attack on me by Dr Purewal. He knew that I could not take up an extra surgery on that day."
At a meeting of the partners on August 4, one partner, Dr Marcus Julier, said he did not know prayers were a weekly occurrence and added: "Nobody should have a commitment that is more important than this surgery on any day that they are working at this practice."
Dr Syed-Shah said she was told the next day by partner Dr Elizabeth Martin that she would be "out of a job" if she continued going to Friday prayers.
She said: "I felt bullied and victimised. It seemed clear to me that they were upset about me attending the mosque on Fridays."
Dr Syed-Shah was given one month's notice on August 8 in a letter which said the reason for the termination was that "arrangements are unfortunately... not working".
Dr Syed-Shah said: "I believed the reasons for my dismissal are because I wished to attend the mosque for prayers on Fridays, because of me raising the issue of my health and safety, and because I had complained about doubling up on patient appointments and refused to do the same."
She must be spitting feathers that she cannot play the 'race card' against a Sikh and solely has 'religious discrimination'.  And as for her reluctance to take on extra work to cover for another doctor, how did she think her colleagues would cover for her while she was at the mosque?
This is a continuing problem that I have with Islam. That prayer for them does not seem to be any sort of  communication with God, listening for His word and awareness of his presence. It is a set of routine movements and exercises to be done in this way, at that time, in this place without which they are not 'valid'. God does not judge prayers for their vailidity or otherwise. He hears every prayer, even those which are merely moans which the tongue cannot articulate. When the many Christian nurses of my acquaintance are at work on a Sunday morning and cannot come to church they regard their duties among the sick as their worship. And they come to a midweek service. I imagine Jewish doctors and nurses feel the same when on the Sabbath the sick still have to be tended.

Posted on 05/15/2009 2:13 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
15 May 2009
Send an emailSlimReed

 I'm somewhat confused: She describes herself as a devout Muslim.  Why is she educated and working?  And driving?  Perhaps voting?  Conversing with men not of her immediate family?

15 May 2009
Send an emailMary Jackson

Not that it would be right, even if she were a man, to insist on time off for Friday prayers, but I think Islam doesn't require women to attend the mosque, and says prayers can be fitted in at different times of the day. So whenever Muslims push for this kind of thing, it's always about territory, not about piety.

If it were really about devotion and worship, she would get another job, or work part-time and forgoe the income. But Islam requires sacrifice from the infidel, not the Muslim.

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