I admire people with strong convictions. As a Christian, I try to live faithfully to my own. And as a member of a religious minority here, I've seen first hand what it can be like when your beliefs run counter to the majority.

These thoughts run through my head when I read stories like these:

Muslim WPC shuns handshake with chief - A UK Muslim woman graduating from training refuses to shake hands with Sir Ian Blair, and also refused "to be photographed with Sir Ian, reportedly claiming that she did not want the image to be used for 'propaganda purposes' as the Yard endeavours to recruit more female Muslim officers".

Officials want tougher penalties for refusal to transport passengers carrying alcohol - Somali Muslim cabdrivers in Minnesota (USA) are refusing to give passengers rides if the passengers have alcohol with them.

In both these cases, I wonder why these people want to do these jobs that will clash with their beliefs so much. I understand that society should accommodate minorities when they can. But surely this can only run so far. If you really believe that having any sort of physical contact (except in life-threatening situations) with non-family members of the opposite sex is wrong, I can admire that. But it would seem that a career like police constable is going to be impossible for you. If you really believe that carrying alcohol is wrong, I can admire that. But then being in the transportation industry in a country where alcohol is legal is impossible.

I'm not trying to single these examples out because they are Muslims. I have seen this attitude among Christians and other religious groups too (and non-religious, like animal rights activists, for that matter), but haven't seen any recent stories about them. Very few believers seem to want to make any sacrifices for their beliefs or admit that somethings are just outside what can be accommodated.

Personally, I believe that smoking is a sin. So I wouldn't take a job for a tobacco company. But if I wanted to work in a store, and it sells cigarettes, then I shouldn't expect the company to set up a separate line for me to work at that won't sell tobacco. The same would go for a meat-less line if I were an animal rights believer. That is how it seems to me anyway.

[Update] In the comments, SD reminds me of another great example. In the US there are many pharmacists who refuse to dispense birth control pills because of their religious beliefs. Here is just one example: Druggists refuse to give out pill


secretdubai said...

What I would like to know is if she can't even shake a man's hand, how is she going to cope with handling unconcsious male bodies? Or alcohol-related incidents? Or prostitution-related issues? Or anything else that "offends" her religious beliefs than normal cops have to deal with on a daily basis?

You're right, people whose beliefs conflict with their daily duties should choose different career. I've seen security guards leaving their windows unattended while they kneel down and pray. Now it's one thing for me as law-abiding person to wait for them to finish and hand over my ID card, but the kind of people that security guards are there to protect against are the kind of people who will deliberately exploit such an opportunity to enter a premises.

The same goes for doctors and pharmacists who won't prescribe certain medications due to their "beliefs". There are plenty of other careers they could have chosen - so why don't they?

Brn said...

Those were my thoughts too. And also, if you are so ashamed of the people that you work for that you think that a picture of yourself in uniform will be used as "propaganda", then you probably need a new job too.

Thanks for the example of the pharmacists, I had forgotten about that one.

Anonymous said...


There are also other doctors & pharmacists patients/customers can choose.

I don't have any problem with a Pharmacy that terminates a pharmacist who refuses to dole out certain meds.

Ones beliefs can be dear.

secretdubai said...

There are also other doctors & pharmacists patients/customers can choose.

Not in rural and remote areas, where more conservative mindsets are likely to dominate. There were some very sad stories of women in rural Australia having to travel hundreds of miles to a further town because the pharmacist in their local town wouldn't dispense the birth control pill.