Press Releases

CAIR Warns of Invasive Body Scans at U.S. Airports

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/13/08) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today warned American Muslims and others concerned with personal privacy of a security procedure recently implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that scans full-body images of passengers through their clothing, revealing intimate body parts to screeners.
According to USA Today, the body-scanning machines are being used on randomly-selected passengers at airports in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Denver, Albuquerque, and New York’s JFK airport. They are scheduled to be installed at airports in Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, and Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. this month.
SEE: 10 Airports Install Body Scanners (USA Today)
The TSA website describes the process through which the machines bounce harmless radio waves off the passenger’s body, which constructs a three-dimensional image that is projected on a monitor in the security scanner’s room. The TSA characterizes the procedure as a “voluntary alternative to a pat-down,” and says it blurs passengers’ faces and does not store the images to protect privacy.
SEE: Whole Body Imaging – Millimeter Wave
However, concerns have been raised over the level of detail shown by the machines, which are capable of projecting graphic images of a person’s body, revealing private body parts and other intimate details.
SEE: ACLU Backgrounder on Body Scanners and ‘Virtual Strip Searches’
“CAIR is working with other organizations to address the privacy issues that this technology presents,” said CAIR Civil Rights Manager Khadija Athman. “In the meantime, it is important that you know that you have the option to request a pat-down by a security officer of your gender in a private room instead of going through the body-scanning machine.”
Athman said CAIR, in cooperation with other civil rights organizations, is insisting that the TSA implement a program of fully informing passengers who volunteer for the scan of its privacy implications.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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 Strategic Communications Director Ahmed Rehab, Tel: 202-870-0166, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail:


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