Some Muslims have refused to use alcohol-based hand gels to combat the spread of swine flu because they claim it is against their religion.
Some of those employed by St Albans Council in Hertfordshire have complained about the antibacterial lotion, which is considered a key strategy in containing the virus.
Officials were concerned because the Koran bans Muslims from consuming alcohol, so council chiefs issued them with non-alcohol hand gels, which studies have shown to be less effective in killing bugs.
But Muslim leaders criticised the council’s decision to change the gel, pointing out that Islamic teachings allow Muslims to use alcohol for medicinal purposes.
The Muslim Council of Britain said: ‘We would advise people to follow the medical advice so we would, of course, encourage people to use hand gel. ‘People need to find ways to accommodate their beliefs.’
Councils, schools and businesses across the country have ordered supplies of alcohol-based hand gels to reduce the spread of swine flu.
A spokesman for St Albans Council said it had issued hand gel to all employees in May.
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