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American Muslim groups say no to body scanners at airports
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 11:41:32 AM, ANI
Washington: Two American Muslim groups have objected to the use of full body scanners at airports in the United States, stating that the devices are inconsistent with the tenets of Islam.
The full body scanners made their debut at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Monday and the two Islamic groups claim the technology is too invasive.
The Fiqh Council of North America, a body of Islamic scholars located in Plainfield, Indiana, said the screening imagery is a violation of Islam.
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. “There must be a compelling case for the necessity and the exemption to this rule must be proportional to the demonstrated need.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based civil rights advocacy group, agreed.
Its Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said CAIR plans to track Muslims concerns with the scanners before deciding what actions to take next.
“Modesty is a basic principal of the Islamic faith, it’s very important and always has been. People say, ‘I’ll do anything for safety,’ but that’s not the question. Everybody wants to be safe. Muslims fly like anybody else … you can be safe and secure and still maintain your privacy rights,” Hooper said.
The number of full-body scanners at US airports is to triple in 2010, reports the Christian Science Monitor (CSM). 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 bomb-making 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.
To stress the anonymity of the process, the TSA says officers review the images in a remote location and never see the actual passengers. What they do see via their monitors is automatically deleted from the system once the passenger passes review.
The Fiqh Council, however, is urging followers to request pat-down searches as an alternative.
CAIR’s Mr. Hooper also advocates an increase in federal funding for alternate screening technologies that do not require visual screening, such as the “Puffer,” a machine that can identify chemical particles a person may have on their body and analyze whether or not they are harmful. (ANI)
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