There has been some debate in the media about the fact that many of the suspects involved in the car bombs in London and Glasgow last week are physicians. Are they not bound by the Hippocratic Oath., which states that a physician may not harm? But does such an oath really matter for terrorists? And what's the Hippocratic Oath worth anyway, especially in the West?
Let's start with the terrorists: why shouldn't they plan or carry out a car bomb attack in Great-Britain, or Iraq for that matter, just because they're physicians who have taken the Hippocratic Oath? I'm a civil engineer, and I never got the impression at university that it would be OK for me to harm people as part of my job, on the contrary. Furthermore, the Hippocratic Oath never stopped the development of biological or chemical arms, even though I'm sure many medical doctors were (and probably still are) involved. Not to mention Josef Mengele, who took the Hippocratic Oath too, just as well as Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda's No. 2, George Habash of the PLO and Mahmoud al-Zahar, the Hamas strongman in Gaza, as Thomas Wagner from Associated Press points out.
That so many people are puzzled by the fact that many of the suspects were physicians who had sworn to harm no-one says more about the people who are puzzled than the suspects. It seems that some people still don't understand, even after 11 September 2001 in New York, 11 March 2004 in Madrid and 7 July 2005 in London. There is a war going on, and contrary to what some people in the media want us to believe, it was not the West that started it. In fact, being a physician is just an easy ticket in if you want to enter the United Kingdom. The following quote from The Sun sums it up quite well:
It was a perfect cover. Who could possibly suspect a doctor of wanting to inflict death and injury on innocent people?
My guess: the Israeli's could,and probably would too. Actually, it's a lesson they learned years ago, and maybe we should start learning from them instead of blaming them for almost everything that's going wrong in the Middle East.
Finally, how much is the Hippocratic Oath still worth in the Western world anyway? The oath explicitly bans both euthanasia and abortion, but references to it aren't even accepted in modern debates about those two issues. In Belgium, for example, physicians are still allowed to refuse to perform abortion or euthanasia on moral grounds, at least for the time being. The Belgian government has not really appreciated those difficult physicians very much. Marc Cosyns, the doctor who announced last week that he is planning to perform euthanasia illegally to reopen the debate, has not been confronted with his Hippocratic Oath at all. If that isn't in conflict with the Hippocratic Oath, why would killing infidels be?