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 – two of them in Detroit – 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 would be a pat-down by a security guard of the same gender, Fotenos said.
The two members of the Fiqh Council from Michigan are 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 director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a separate group that has a chapter in Michigan, says it endorses the fatwa.
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