Looking at the grainy image of an NHS doctor in his blues pointing to the sky in the Isis salute has left me feeling angry and ashamed. The Facebook image of British citizen Issam Abuanza, 37, who joined Isis in Syria in 2014, are deeply troubling and not because he is a medic in a combat zone. Thousands of NHS doctors have given their time freely to enter combat zones and treat all those who need their help. But Dr Abuanza is their antithesis – a man who has broken the sacred covenants of the medical profession world-wide to applaud civilian murder.
I too am an NHS doctor and Issam Abuanza, 37, who specialised in endocrinology before leaving his wife and two children back in Sheffield, is not like me or my colleagues who follow a calling. I’m not talking about treating injured ISIS fighters – this he can do while upholding the principles enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath and its modern equivalents. What breaks the Oath, is his stated desire to do harm, maim and torture.
We know this because Abuanza has been a prolific poster on social media. One of the most appalling posts concerned the death of a Jordanian pilot who was brutally murdered by being burned alive in a cage, he wrote: ‘I would’ve liked for them to burn him extremely slowly and I could treat him so we could torch him some more.’ How profoundly disturbing that that this written by someone who trained as a healer.
Two and a half thousand years after it was devised, the Hippocratic Oath is still known world-wide as the seminal ethical code for physicians. Attributed to Hippocrates who lived in Athens in Greece in the Age of Pericles, it formed the basis of The Declaration of Geneva in 1948.
This was adopted by the World Medical Association shortly after the Second World War in the light of the many instances of doctors performing inconceivable atrocities against prisoners. How ironic that we are back where we were nearly 70 years ago, when sacred principles had to be reaffirmed because doctors lost their way in the morass of false doctrine and twisted politics.
In the 1948 declaration, doctors promise to ‘practise my profession with conscience and dignity.’ It is possible that Abuanza is dead – his posts stopped abruptly in 2015 – but I hope that others who follow him remember who they are and what they stand for – torches of humanity in an inhumane world.