Saturday, February 13, 2010

News Item: Islamic Scholars Oppose Full Transparency in Airline Travel

A group of scholars that advise Muslims in North America on the application of Islamic law has declared the full body scanners being introduced at airports to be a violation of their religion's teachings.

In what the Detroit Free Press has described as a fatwa, although the scholars do not use that term themselves, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) this week issued a statement which said that the "general and public use" of full body scanners is "against the teachings of Islam, natural law and all religions and cultures that stand for decency and modesty". Emphasizing that it "fully supports the necessary measures for the safety and protection of all passengers" and "appreciates the alternate provision of pat-down search (when needed)" the FCNA stated:
It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women. Islam highly emphasizes ‘haya’ (modesty) and considers it part of faith. The Qur’an has commanded the believers, both men and women, to cover their private parts. Human beings are urged to be modest in their dress
Further emphasis was placed on the fact that "extreme necessity" can result in an "exception to this rule". The FCNA's origins lie with the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada and is a body with strong links to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The Indiana-based FCNA also suggests that "software should be designed to produce only the picture of questionable materials on an outline of the body". Support for the statement has come from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization which operates independently in the U.S. and Canada. Nihad Awad is the Executive Director and co-founder of CAIR in the U.S. and he is quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying:
We support the Fiqh Council’s statement on full-body scanners and believe that the religious and privacy rights of passengers can be respected while maintaining safety and security
For the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesman Jim Fotenos advised that with 40 full-body scanners already in use at 19 airports in the U.S., there are plans to install a further 450. Noting that passengers may refuse a full body scan, in which case a private pat-down search would be conducted, Mr Fotenos indicated that the images produced by the scanners are "like chalk outlines”. He said:
TSA's use of these technologies includes strong protections in place to safeguard passenger privacy. Screening images are automatically deleted, and the officer viewing the image will never see the passenger
Security at airports and on planes has once more become the focus of much attention following the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25. Body scanners form a part of increased security measures introduced or due to be introduced following that incident and their arrival is being opposed by more than just religious groups such as the FCNA. The New York Daily News says that civil libertarians have voiced their displeasure at the prospect of full-body scanners becoming a regular part of airport security. While the Telegraph reported back in January that the Equality and Human Rights Commission had written to the British Home Secretary Alan Johnson to express its unease with the scanners being introduced in the U.K.


  1. I think these folks need to go back to where they came from. If anyone needs to be scanned it's the Muslims. As to these "privacy" advocates they can join the Muslims in the journey back to Allah Land. I hope they put these scanners in every airport in the country, and I hope they do it quickly. The security of the many far outweighs the nonsense of the few.

    P.S. You beat me to this one IP. Good post.

  2. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." Most Muslims I am friends with are devout to Islam sincerely...perhaps as much as anyone is to Jesus or their one god. What is interesting to me, is that more Muslim women and men I know are more willing to discuss theology and the nature of eternity with me sans any judgment of my own thoughts on divinity ... they just trust me on my own terms. And to me, they examplify what I've been taught and have learned an American from the United States is all about. My point is; as Americans, they deserve their rights just the same as anyone else. They deserve to be Americans, if they legally ask and devote themselves to it. I've been to 'citizenship' ceremonies for friends who are from the near east become Americans'. That said,
    We sure do have to use some 'racial profiling' to keep Americans safe these days. And if Muslims are claiming that these devices are religiously intrusive, they are better served to make special arrangements personally in the travel, while the rest of us freely allow the new security systems to have the opportunity to keep us safe. I hope I am not a bigot nor unfair with my neighbors. I consider anyone else on the planet a neighbor, so I guess my naive boarderless ideas may not resonate. But I hope one day they will. Because it's every part of what causes the central problem in the first place; intolerance. Interesting post Vigil. I learned a lot! :-)

  3. We have nudist camps, why not nudist airlines?

  4. Try living in the UK mate.

    I once made the innocent and, in my opinion, sensible remark that 'if muslims don't like the way it is in England and they want an Islamic state then perhaps they should go and live in one'

    I was then condemned as Islamophobic.

    A British Govt. Minister (who is muslim) recently made the remark that he hopes to see a 'believer in my faith' as he put in 10 Downing Street within 30 years.

    Some of these muzzies are bloody dangerous old bean.

  5. They (the Muslims) want a procedure that doesn't single them out. Here, my friends, is a procrdure that doesn't single them out.....Accomodate this! That's what I would probably tell 'em.

  6. If they consider the scan too invasive, I can support that, as long as they agree to an extensive pat down. To me it seems, that the pat down would be far more intrusive then the scan.

  7. I think the fundamentalist Muslims who want an Islamic state also prefer that it not be invaded or bombed by the US. They would likely be joined in that opinion by more moderate Muslims.

  8. I heard they were making an issue of that. The heck with them I am all for it and some serious profiling just for starters.

  9. I am sorry I missed an opportunity to introduce Indicted Plagiarist who has joined The Vigil. He seems to have done very well without any assistance from me.

    I will address everyone, but especially those favoring profiling. I have championed full body scans (FBS) twice before in my pages. What I like about it, is that it does not require profiling, which I am against. It subjects everyone of all shapes & sizes to the same invasion of privacy. In the age of penis-wrapped and anally-inserted bombs, the only alternative option is this. IMO, if you can't accept FBS, then don't fly. My kids fly on business all the time, and they live under flight paths. I don't want to subject them to risk because someone's hyper-sensitive to a loss of privacy.

  10. Vigil,

    IP makes a real good point which didn't click when I first read it-subjecting everyone to the same method.And how it beats profiling.

    It's less easy to be for profiling when you are "Born a Suspect" and hence often the profilee (if that's a word).

    It's like a man saying about menstruation-what's the big deal?

  11. A group of scholars that advise Muslims in North America on the application of Islamic law has declared the full body scanners being introduced at airports to be a violation of their religion's teachings.

    Tough shit, nothing the Constitution Or Bill of Rights saying you can have privacy while flying. Don't want the scan, try walking.

  12. You know, Vig, what you say makes perfect, non profiling sense to me. We submit to searching for the greater safety of the group... because it's the law and it the responsible thing to do. Hey, have a great holiday!