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U.S. Muslim organizations against full body scanners

Add the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the well-known civil liberties and advocacy organization, and the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), a Muslim scholars organization, to groups opposing the introduction of so-called full-body scanners at U.S. airports.

The deployment of the scanners gained considerable impetus in the wake of the Underwear Bomber incident, but the devices still remain controversial in some quarters. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes their introduction on privacy grounds. And various academicians and scientists have suggested that, at least statistically, they might pose radiation-related health risks.

In addition, a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) expressed reservations about the scanners’ effectiveness against just such hidden explosives as the PETN carried by the Underwear Bomber.
Now, CAIR, associating itself with an earlier statement by FCNA, says the scanners “violate religious and privacy rights.”

The FCNA had called for scanner software to be “altered to produce only an outline of the body and urged Muslim travelers to avail themselves of alternative pat-down searches.”

"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 CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

In its statement, FCNA also says use of such scanners is “against the teachings of Islam, natural law and all religions and cultures that stand for decency and modesty,” adding that it is a “violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women.”

The FCNA statement is regarded as a fatwa, which is a word that, despite its current unfavorable connotation in many quarters of the West, can be defined simply as a “legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar,” according to several online dictionaries.

Scanners “do not produce photos,” TSA told the Detroit News, according to an article about the original FCNA fatwa. Scanner images simply “look like chalk outlines,” TSA told the News.


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