Letter to BMJ Editor-in-Chief
The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) is shocked by the decision of the BMJ Editorial Team to publish the two articles in Duncan Gardham’s work “Doctors and Islamic State”. Gardham focusses on a handful of individuals and attempts to depict British Muslim medical students and physicians as subverters of professional standards and state security, and calls for increased medical regulator surveillance to help minimise this perceived threat.
British Muslim doctors have a proud tradition of humanitarian work in collaboration with many NGOs in war zones across the world. This has received no attention by Gardham, who instead presents a seditious portrayal of dedicated doctors, including the late Dr Abbas Khan who in 2012 was tortured to death in Syrian custody as he helped refugees fleeing the conflict. Gardham offers a cursory mention of his case instead of citing his courage as an example of medical altruism and servitude to humanity. Gardham’s distortion serves only to discourage Muslim doctors from continuing such work, and places unnecessary doubts about the loyalty of professionals serving within our NHS. We defer to the British Medical Association to seek clarification from Gardham for this deplorable stance.
What is particularly bizarre is the choice to publish these features to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the tragic 7/7 London bombings despite the incidents described within the piece, occurring many months ago. To publish at this sensitive time the BMJ has elected to add to widespread anti-Muslim rhetoric and potentially undermine trust within the doctor-patient relationship. Gardham’s piece headlines “British students who have fled to Syria to work while studying in Khartoum (Sudan)”. These individuals may be British citizens but they cannot and should not be described as British students. Gardham’s failure to recognise this distinction seeks to polarise opinion against the majority of law-abiding students in this country.
BIMA calls for the BMJ to redact the feature of all factual inaccuracies and to issue an apology to the doctors and medical students affected by publishing such a biased, insensitive and inaccurate story. BIMA further calls upon the BMJ to offer an opportunity to redress this balance and to celebrate the contribution of Muslim doctors home and abroad. BIMA would be pleased to assist in this endeavour.
Dr. Hammad Lodhi
BIMA is the democratic body for British Muslim healthcare professionals. We aim to improve patient care through pastoral and professional development for its membership. [email protected] / www.BritishIMA.org