Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Do Airport Full Body Scanners Violate Islam?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Do Airport Full Body Scanners Violate Islam?

Article excerpt

As full body scanners make their O'Hare Airport debut Monday, two groups say the devices - which image a person's body - are immodest, and therefore are inconsistent with Islam.

As full body scanners debut at O'Hare International Airport Monday, two American Muslim groups have suggested that the technology violates the teachings of Islam.

The comments are just the latest controversy surrounding full- body scanners, which some critics call a "virtual strip search" because the technology sees through clothing to show the contours of a passenger's body in detail.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed 150 scanners across 21 US airports this month, partly in response to the failed Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner, where bombmaking materials were hidden in a passenger's underwear - something full-body scanners would have seen.

The TSA expects to install an additional 300 scanners in nine additional airports by the end of this year. But security officials say they will be able to accommodate the wishes of passengers - Muslim or otherwise - who object to the full-body screener.

The technology is "completely optional for all passengers," says Jim Fotenos, a TSA spokesman, and those who choose not to participate get "an equal level of screening," which includes a walk through a metal detector and a physical pat-down by an officer of the same sex.

Islamic objections

The screening imagery is a violation of Islam, says The Fiqh Council of North America, a body of Islamic scholars located in Plainfield, Ind. Last month the council issued a statement that said the full body imagery "is against the teachings of Islam, natural law, and all religions and cultures that stand for decency and modesty."

"It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women," the statement continued. …

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