Airport body scanners violate Islamic law, Muslims say
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The Fiqh Council of North America – a body of Islamic scholars that includes some from Michigan – issued a fatwa this week that says going through the airport scanners would violate Islamic rules on modesty.
“It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women,” reads the fatwa issued Tuesday. “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.”
The decision could complicate efforts to intensify screening of potential terrorists who are Muslim. After the Christmas Day bombing attempt in Detroit by a Muslim suspect from Nigeria, some have called for the use of body scanners at airports to find explosives and other dangerous materials carried by terrorists. Some airports are now in the process of buying and using the body scanners, which show in graphic detail the outlines of a person’s body.
But Muslim groups say the scanners go against their religion. One option offered to passengers who don’t want to use the scanners would be a pat down by a security guard. The Muslim groups are urging members to undergo those instead.
Two members of the Fiqh Council are from Michigan, Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, and Imam Ali Suleiman Ali of the Canton Mosque. “Fiqh” means Islamic jurisprudence.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has a chapter in Michigan, says it endorses the fatwa.
“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,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director of CAIR.
A spokesman for the Transportation Safety Administration was not available to immediately comment.