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UK: Death of 4 immigrant doctors debunks myths

UK mourns doctors of Sudanese, Nigerian and Pakistani origin who had been treating coronavirus patients

Ahmed Asmar   | 03.04.2020
UK: Death of 4 immigrant doctors debunks myths


The death of four Muslim immigrant doctors in the U.K. has debunked myths harbored by anti-immigrant groups and highlighted their contributions to British society.

The quartet of physicians sacrificed their lives while saving patients infected with coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Adil El Tayar, 63, died on March 25, after contracting the virus at the West Middlesex University Hospital in Isleworth, London. Originally from Sudan, he was an organ transplant specialist and in his final days was serving in the accident and emergency department.

Pakistani-origin Habib Zaidi, 76, died in intensive care in Southend Hospital on March 27. With a career spanning more than 45 years, Zaidi had served at Leigh-on-Sea, a town and civil parish in Essex.

Amged El-Hawrani, 55, also from Sudan, tested positive and died on March 28 at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital. He was an associate clinical director and ENT specialist at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton.

The fourth doctor, Alfa Saadu 68, dedicated nearly four decades of his life to saving others, and also died after contracting the virus.

The loss of the four doctors came as a rude shock for healthcare workers as well as people in the U.K. People took to social media to voice solidarity with their families, lauding the doctors as heroes who sacrificed their lives to save others.

"Pandemic coronavirus doesn't differentiate between people inside the community based on ethnicity or religion, this is a message against the hatred and discrimination discourse," commented Hossam Shaker, an author and media consultant.

He added that among the doctors and healthcare staff on the frontline defending and protecting communities “are Muslims and others from different cultures and backgrounds. This is also a lesson against the discrimination incitement."

Some right-wing groups -- not only in the U.K. but across Europe and the U.S. -- have painted immigrants as a burden on their societies. These groups even launched campaigns to send them back to their countries of origin (even ones from second-generation immigrant families). These calls often grow louder before elections, where these groups try to win votes through stoking fear.

In some European countries, over the past three years right-wing parties opposed to immigration have gained parliamentary seats across Europe. In Poland, the Law and Justice party won 38% of votes in 2015, Germany’s AfD grabbed 13% in 2017, and Italy’s Northern League entered a coalition government in 2018.

Across EU countries, anti-immigrant parties gained an average of 12% of the vote in recent general elections.

The sacrifices of these doctors should silence Islamophobic voices who had been sparing no effort to target Muslim communities, say observers. Like others, Muslim communities in the U.K. are also working to help people affected by the virus.

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