Another day, another airport full-body scanner story. It has emerged that the scanners are in violation of Islamic law. Now, before you get all flip and retort, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have
microwave millimeter scanners back in the days of Muhammad,” let’s listen to what the people have to say.
The Fiqh Council of North America—obviously you’ve heard of them—has issued a fatwa vis-à-vis the full-body scanners. Here we go!
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 Quran has commanded the believers, both men and women, to cover their private parts.
Now, there’s a few things that could solve this little problem. Muslim passengers could elect to be patted down by a TSA dude. That way their nude body isn’t seen by anyone else.
The TSA responded to this kerfuffle with:
TSA’s mission is to keep the traveling public safe. Advanced imaging technologies are an important tool in a multi-layered security system to detect evolving threats such as improvised explosive devices. TSA’s use of these technologies includes strong protections in place to safeguard passenger privacy. Screening images are automatically deleted, and the officer viewing the image will never see the passenger. [People who don't want to be full-body scanned] will receive equivalent screening that may include a physical pat-down, hand-wanding, and other technologies. Physical pat-downs are performed by Transportation Security Officers of the same sex as the passenger in a private screening area, if the passenger requests.
We all know that security is pretty much a joke to begin with—how many times do you hear of people who make it through security with a huge knife in their pocket by mistake?—but at the very least the TSA has provided a pretty reasonable alternative to being full-body scanned.
Keep in mind: these scans are optional. You’ll just have to let Mr. Big Security Guard pat you down. I don’t understand the hubbub—we’re all people, it’s not like there’s any surprises as to what’s going on down there—but I’ll defer to people’s own opinions here.