NEWS: Fatwah Issued against Full-Body Scanners in Airports

The Fiqh Council of North America has issued a fatwah—a religious edict—contesting the compulsory use of full-body scanners in airports as a violation of Islamic law. The scanners, in use in many U.S. airports, produce grainy full body images that can detect weapons or other items carried under an individual’s clothing. Though the images are “basically grainy outlines of the human body,” they “also clearly show the outlines of breasts, buttocks, and sexual organs.” These images are viewed from a remote booth and are deleted immediately with no possibility of storage, in order to protect privacy. As the fatwah explains, however, “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.” Muslims are advised by the edict to therefore request a pat-down as an alternative to the body scan. The Transportation Security Administration is happy to comply with such requests, based on religious grounds.

Muslims are not the only ones uncomfortable with the full-body scanned images. As Religion News Service reports, an Orthodox Jewish group known as Agudath Israel addressed a letter to Congress calling the scanners “offensive, demeaning, and far short of acceptable norms of modesty.” However, a rabbi of the Orthodox Union stated that scanners would not violate Jewish modesty laws (tzniut) so long as only men viewed images of other men and women of other women. Some fundamentalist Christians have also expressed concern. Spokespersons for Buddhist and Hindu traditions, however, have been more compliant, stressing that so long as the technology is used respectfully and with the intent for protection, they in fact serve a greater good. For the full story at Religion News Service click here.

Related Articles:

Controlling the Body: Muslim Feminists Debating Women’s Rights in Indonesia
By Pieternella van Doorn-Harder , Valparaiso University
(Vol. 3, October 2008)
Religion Compass

Muslim-Majority States and Human Rights: From the UDHR to Durban Conference
By Ziya Meral , University of Cambridge
(Vol. 4, September 2009)
Religion Compass

Islam in the Age of Globalization
By Bruce Lawrence , Duke University
(Vol. 3, May 2008)
Religion Compass

One thought on “NEWS: Fatwah Issued against Full-Body Scanners in Airports

  1. Here’s my take on the situation, personally I want to be safe while I fly. If that means going through a body scanner then lets do it. So if you don’t want to be scanned how about you get on the plane with no security and I’ll get on the one with security and we’ll see how you fair.

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