11:12AM, Wednesday 13 June 2018
A retired dentist who worked for the Langley Dental Clinic and Implant Centre last year has been suspended from the profession for offensive comments about Muslims.
Following a public hearing in May, the General Dental Council (GDC) suspended Ronald Gordon Pate for four months for comments he made on an online forum on the GDPUK (General Dental Practice UK) website in May 2017.
In the aftermath of the Manchester arena bombing, Mr Pate posted: “Continue with this appeasing woolly approach and soon we will see Sharia Law recognised, a majority of Muslim MPs and say goodbye to the country.”
He added: “It’s time these sewers of towns were cleansed.”
While Mr Pate was adamant his comments were about terrorists, rather than Muslims in general, the GDC was satisfied his comments could easily be interpreted as supporting ethnic cleansing.
His comment, which referenced ‘a majority of Muslim MPs' led the committee to believe the remarks were not merely about terrorists.
In its report, it said: "a reasonable person would find the language religiously offensive."
The committee determined that ‘Muslim’ was not referring to race but rather a religion.
Mr Pate maintained that his comments were made on a private forum, which has about 10,000 members and is password protected.
“You were clear that you would not have used this language around patients,” the GDC adds.
“You explained that the reason you posted on that forum was so that you could say things away from public scrutiny that wouldn’t normally say but conceded that you may have written this in haste and anger.”
Essam Shawkat, the clinic’s current owner, distanced his practice from the comments.
Dr Shawkat, who is a Muslim, said he took over the Langley High Street practice after Mr Pate sold it on June 5, 2017.
“He doesn’t work here anymore and he’s totally not associated with this practice anymore,” he added.
The ruling was welcomed by Dr Shazad Amin, CEO of MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) a not-for-profit company seeking to tackle Islamophobia.
He told the Express: “I think sadly, it fits in with a growing trend of Islamophobia in this country.
“If you were a patient of his and he had those kind of views how would you feel?”
He added that dentists are patients themselves and members of the public, meaning that Mr Pate's defence that such views were only expressed on a private forum was unacceptable.
“I think people don’t realise that this is not a private space. I think there’s a lot of education needed really.”
Dr Amin, who has a medical background, added: “You can bring the profession into disrepute by what you do.
“I think it's very important that professionals realise that the public expects them to act an behave in a professional manner at all times."
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