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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
Dentist denies headscarf 'order'
Omer Butt
Dr Butt could have his licence revoked if found guilty
A dentist accused of ordering a Muslim woman to wear a headscarf while being treated has denied the accusation, a disciplinary hearing has heard.

Dr Omer Butt, from Greater Manchester, told a professional conduct committee he would "request" Muslim women to cover up but never ordered them.

He denies refusing to treat a woman because she did not follow his rules.

However, he admitted reducing fees to encourage patients to wear the Islamic headscarf, the hearing was told.

Dr Butt, who runs the Unsworth Smile Clinic in Bury, was brought before the General Dental Council (GDC) professional conduct committee in London following a complaint from a female patient who visited his clinic in April 2005.

The nurse, a non-practising Muslim known as Patient A, told the hearing that Dr Butt said she would have to find another dentist because she would not wear the headscarf during treatment.

'Polite request'

Giving evidence in his defence, Dr Butt said he identified the woman as a Muslim because of her name, which has roots in Islam, then "politely" asked her to wear a headscarf.

"I did request her to wear the headscarf. I said 'It would help me if you would wear a headscarf'.

It was a polite request. It was a simple request. It was never more than a request
Dr Omer Butt

"Her response was she looked at me with a smile and said 'Oh, that's strange'."

He said it was "unlawful" for him, as a Muslim, to look at a Muslim woman who was not properly covered up.

He told the hearing: "If she was to adhere to my request, it makes me feel more comfortable. It makes me more relaxed.

"It was a polite request. It was a simple request. It was never more than a request."

Dr Butt told the committee that the Islamic ethos of his surgery was a "marketing tool".

He said: "If they are prepared to wear the headscarf, I am willing to reduce the fee or completely waive the fee."

Under cross-examination from John Snell, for the GDC, Dr Butt was repeatedly asked if his clinic had a policy that women must wear a headscarf.

Mr Snell said: "The truth is that it is and it was a policy that you insist upon patients coming to your practice wear the headscarf."

Not compulsory

Dr Butt replied: "No, I request them."

Dr Butt's nurse was asked what the normal practice was when Muslim women came into the surgery without a headscarf.

She told the hearing: "Dr Butt generally spoke to the patients and requested if they would not mind wearing a headscarf.

"Most of them did generally and he would go and get a headscarf from reception and the client would put it on."

She said most of the women did not mind wearing the headscarf in the surgery and, if they refused, he would just "do an examination like normal".

"There was no ... force or anything like that in it."

If found guilty of serious professional misconduct, Dr Butt could have his licence revoked.

The hearing is expected to finish on Wednesday.

Background to Dr Omer Butt's case

Dentist in Islamic headscarf row
24 Sep 07 |  Manchester

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