(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/10/10) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today supported a statement by a prominent group of Muslim scholars that full-body scanners being introduced in airports worldwide violate religious and privacy rights.
In a February 9 statement, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) asked that scanner software be altered to produce only an outline of the body and urged Muslim travelers to avail themselves of alternative pat-down searches. (The term “fiqh” refers to Islamic jurisprudence.)
“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.
The full “Statement of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) on the Use of Full Body Scanners for Security at the Airports and Other Places” states:
“The Full Body Security Scanners (also called nude-body scanners) are being installed at various airports in United States and Europe. Several human rights and religious groups have expressed their concerns and disapproval of such scanners on the grounds of violation of privacy and human dignity. The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) emphasizes that a general and public use of such scanners is against the teachings of Islam, natural law and all religions and cultures that stand for decency and modesty.
“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. See Holy Quran, 7:26-27; 24:30-31; 33:59. Exception to this rule can be made in case of extreme necessity, such as medical treatment, to investigate a crime or in a situation of imminent danger. There must be a compelling case for the necessity and the exemption to this rule must be proportional to the demonstrated need.
“FCNA fully supports the necessary measures for the safety and protection of all passengers. It is, however, deeply concerned about the use of nude body scanners for this purpose. FCNA recommends that instead of producing and displaying a picture of the body, software should be designed to produce only the picture of questionable materials on an outline of the body. Further, other technologies could be used that detect the presence of explosives without infringing on modesty as some European leaders have pointed out.
“FCNA appreciates the alternate provision of pat-down search (when needed) and therefore recommends to Muslims to avail this option over the nude body scanners.”
In 2005, FCNA issued an Islamic legal ruling, or fatwa, against terrorism and religious extremism.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com