A U.K. doctor’s 23-year career is on the line for asking a woman to remove her niqab so he could better understand her.
Dr. Keith Wolverson, 52, of Royal Stoke University Hospital was treating a woman’s child for suspected tonsillitis in June when he asked the mother to take off a niqab. He thought everything at the walk-in center went well — until her husband filed a formal complaint.
The General Medical Council sent him a letter informing him of a racism investigation that is underway.
A petition has already garnered 20,000 signatures to make sure he is treated “fairly,” the U.K. Telegraph reported Monday.
“I’m not racist — this is nothing to do with race, religion or skin color. It’s about clarity of communication,” he told the Daily Mirror. “I’ve treated women in the past who have worn similar veils but, on those occasions, I’ve never had to ask them to remove it. They just did. I’ve seen the suggestion that I could’ve asked a female GP to carry out the treatment for the woman’s daughter but there was no female GP in the center.”
The doctor has not worked since the investigation began.
“It’s not been easy,” he continued. “I was just trying to do my job.”
Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, said medical personnel should have found a way to provide a female staff member, the Daily Mail reported.