Muslim scholars oppose airport body scanners

  • Thu Feb 11th, 2010 10:25pm
  • News

Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — In a move that could complicate airport screening, a group of Muslim-American scholars issued a religious ruling this week that called upon the faithful to not go through body scanners because the scholars said the machines violate Islamic rules on nudity.

A growing number of body scanners — 450 more of them this year — are to be introduced in airports across the U.S., say Transportation Security Administration officials. Their increased use comes after the Dec. 25 bombing attempt on an airline over Detroit, heightening fears of terrorism. The suspect in the failed bombing is a Nigerian Muslim.

The Fiqh Council of North America — a national group based in Indiana — said the scanners contravene Islamic law, which is grounded in the holy book the Quran. The council consists of an executive council and a council of 10 scholars. It’s an affiliate of the Islamic Society of North America.

“It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women,” reads the fatwa. “Islam highly emphasizes haya (modesty) and considers it part of faith. The Quran has commanded the believers, both men and women, to cover their private parts.”

Since the Dec. 25 bombing attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — who hid explosive chemicals in his underwear — some have called for the use of body scanners at airports to find explosives and other dangerous materials on passengers. The scanners show in graphic detail the outlines of a person’s body.

Currently, there are 40 full-body scanners at 19 airports in the U.S., said TSA spokesman Jim Fotenos.

One option offered to passengers who don’t want to go through a scanner scanners would be a pat-down by a security guard of the same gender, Fotenos said.