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Muslim Travelers May Avoid Sniffer Dog Checks Citing Religion

Transportation police in the UK might be losing a safety tool: Muslim passengers are objecting to the use of danger-sniffing dogs, saying that the practice is against Islam. According to the religion, dogs are considered to be spiritually “unclean."

Though the animals may be able to touch passengers’ luggage as a more acceptable alternative, the ban may hinder the effectiveness of dogs who've been trained to identify terrorists. Though a police spokesman said sniffer dogs would still be used regardless of faith, but handlers will be vigilant of “cultural sensitivities.” The chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission disagrees that the measure is enough, saying that even dogs touching baggage would be an issue for a Muslim preparing to pray. He stressed the importance of finding a method to allow dogs to check passengers without physical contact.

Are machines an alternative? Perhaps not. In a trial following the 2005 London bombings, some Muslim women said the use of a body scanner was also unacceptable because it was the equivalent of being forced to strip. Should religious beliefs trump safety practices? Where should the line be?


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Politincorrect Politincorrect 6 years
In our liberal progressive, politically correct world, the good of the many is sacrificed for the good of a few. All of these personal liberties that Muslims demand in the name of religion are a tactical manuever to wear down Christianity and Judaism just like a kid will wear down its parents to get what it wants. This is tyranny of the minority and as long as we allow it to continue we put everyone in jeopardy. When Islam puts my life in jeopardy by allowing any girlie man in a skirt to board a plane without being scrutinized, then it's time to declare a jihad against Islam.
lovelie lovelie 8 years
Lainetm: Ha I do too...sometimes thats where you find the most interesting news! Thanks for sharing!! :)
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
Martinilush, I find that very interesting. It reminds me of when I was reading "the Bookseller of Kabul" a few years ago and how the writer, a Norwegian woman, had to adapt afganh life after the fall of the Taliban. Admittedly, the only things I know about the Muslim faith and culture come from some books and what I read in the news so it is interesting to here firsthand accounts. I didn't know that fasting could be "made up" Your comments make me want to learn more. The only other country I've ever been too has been Norway to visit relatives. Since I was raised by Norwegians who spent about 50% of their lives in Norway, it didn't really feel like much of a stretch. I already knew about some festivals and customs and though I can't speak the language, I can understand it sometimes when it is spoken to me (that is if the speaker speaks very slowly ;) )One cultural difference I noticed while staying in Skudeneshavn, was that everything seemed a lot more quiet than in America. Here, I hear people yelling to each other in the streets, shouting at their kids in supermarkets or screaming and squealing in malls. In the months I spent in Norway, in all the places I went, people did not get loud in public. :?
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Hi kastarte2, the accomodations are nothing to terrible, I can assure you! Simple things, like wearing a headscarf when I go out in public, not going out without a male member of the family, not hanging out in mixed company unless I am with my husband (or another male family member), not wearing a cross (which I usually wear every day in the US - it isn't that my husband's family doesn't know I am Christian, they do and TOTALLY respect that, but some more conservative muslims feel that wearing a cross or other religious symbol is a form of idolatry, so I avoid wearing one)...easy stuff. My husband also makes lots of accomodations, living here, too. For example, during last Ramadan, we were visiting my family, so he put off fasting and made it up later, which is allowed in Islam...he didn't want to make my sister and aunt feel bad if he didn't eat the food they cooked for him, even though they told him it was ok. I always find it interesting when he tells me things like he can "make up" the fasting requirement for Ramadan if he misses it - Islam really seems to be quite tolerant - there are rules, but if you can't follow them for some reason, there nearly always seems to be a way to make it right!
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
Thanks, LadyAngel & Robin. Yes, it's quite a story, and is not sufficiently covered IMO. I barely skimmed the surface, as I was busy today (I was at work, actually). The full stories have more, of course, but I was trying to do a "reader's digest" version. I'll try to do a follow-up on similar incidents in public schools, but right now I'm getting dinner on the table and we have a Boy Scout meeting after that...ah, motherhood!
robinesque robinesque 8 years
I"ve read them and I don't know WHERE to begin!
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 8 years
Lainetm, I read your blog that contained all the articles and news snippets, very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing!
robinesque robinesque 8 years
The rituals for becoming "pure" again are for the sake of being clean enough, according to the teachings of the Quran, in order that you are in a state of cleanliness to stand before God in prayer. It is called "Wudu" and is used expressly for the purpose of prayer. It is not used in place of a bath, but as an extension of your assumed purity. Islam is unwavering in it's merits of cleanliness.
robinesque robinesque 8 years
Accomodations are necessary when visiting any culture other than your own. It takes a mature and self-respecting person to be able to do that, and be highly respected in return. When you take these adjustments matter-of-factly, you can then LEARN, understand and be more accepting of others and their differences. The trick is to be able to keep that perspective.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
IDK I always thought that flying is niether a right nor a priveledge but a comercial transaction. If you buy the ticket, aren't you agreeing to undergo whatever security measures the airline deems appropriate? :? I think Martinilush raises interesting points about each side accomodating the other. I didn't know there were rituals one could do to become "pure" again. Martini, what kind of accomodations do you have to make when you visit your husband's family?
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
lovelie: I listen to *way* too much talk radio! However, I think it's only fair that I document myself. As there was quite a bit, I didn't want to put it all in a comment here, so I drafted it as a blog post. Please note that these stories are all work-related, but it is by no means comprehensive. There are a few issues in schools, too; I'll try to get to that another time.
lovelie lovelie 9 years
Lainetm- Sorry, I meant specifically in airports where security is such a large priority. Wow, the walmart cashiers that won't touch pork products? Where did you read about that? (**I am not questioning it's validity, I would just like to read more about it) :)
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
zeze: My apologies, I was a bit short. Actually, the discussion was (IMO) quite objective and not dismissive. That's why I was sorry that you missed it. Martini: Thanks for offering that perspective. I suspect that, as with Christian denominations, there is a range in how people observe their religions. Lovelie: Think again. There are already a lot of accommodations being made that we would never have expected just 5 years ago. See my comment 74.
lovelie lovelie 9 years
As far as I'm concerned, this matter is moot in the United States. The US will never implement something like this because of the mass amounts of hysteria that will arise from it. Look at all of the adversarial comments just on this one post. It is unfortunate, because as zeze pointed out, a simple private room to accomodate this matter would suffice, however, I just don't think that in the current political climate, anything like this will happen.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
Hi all, I also came to this conversation late. My husband is muslim, so I shot him a quick e-mail about this. He points out that, while contact with dog saliva does make someone ritually unpure, that there are ritual cleansings you do and then you do some ablutions and you are considered "pure" again. He says, in his opinion, the stink over this is ridiculous and he would have no problem submitting to a dog sniff search. He also made an interesting comment (which kinda surprised me!): he points out that when we visit his family, I have to abide by Islamic law and custom and do some things out of respect for Islam that are not part of my normal life and that if someone is choosing to come to the west, they need to realize that things are not set up for an Islamic life and that they need to be somewhat accomodating to that. He believes that submitting to the dog sniff search and then doing the ablutions and cleansing afterward is a reasonable accomodation. Just to add another (perhaps more middle-of-the-road) perspective. :-)
zeze zeze 9 years
Glad to be back Sy, I missed this place - I get what you are saying but I still think all of us can stand to be more accommodating rather than antagonizing these days. It seems to me both sides act like it's a competition on who can get under the other side's nerves more. IMO, the religious side needs to understand the importance of security and instead of asking to bypass the dogs, request an alternative type of search, and the security side needs to respect people's religious beliefs and have an alternative ready (like a small room where personnel can insect belongings and people). It doesn't seem that had to me, it sees like both sides put more effort in battling back and forth than in compromising and understanding.
zeze zeze 9 years
Kastarte2: If you had read my comment carefully, I said I don't believe flying is a privilege. We live in a global community where business, family, and other necessities require air travel, so calling it a privilege is unfounded. It may have been a luxury back in the 50s but not today, and even if it is a privilege, who gets to hand it out? Since we live in a country where all religions are respected we should consider the effects of our security measures on all religions. Also, when I said find an alternative, I meant something other than dogs licking people and their items - it doesn't have to be pretty, maybe people can choose between a dog search or a private search by a security officer.
syako syako 9 years
zz, glad to have you back :hug: as a participant in this discussion from the beginning, I'd have to say that it was overall very respectful and open to other ideas/solutions. But that was my impression of it.
zeze zeze 9 years
Lainetm: I'm sorry, but I was a late comer to the topic and couldn't read all the comments, the reason I pointed that out was in case someone had already said what I said or addressed what I addressed. My criticisms are valid unless I missed a big post where someone completely shifted away from the "screw them" attitude. It is a total waste of time for you to ignore everything I said and dismiss is as invalid or disrespecting of other people's opinions when I think I make a good point on how we never try to look to the other side but only focus on ourselves and our own comforts.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
zeze, I think if you had read the other comments you would see that most people are arguing that flying is a choice, therefore no one is forcing people to go through these security measures. Do you have any ideas for alternate forms of security?
Zahra Zahra 9 years
Ok, sorry, one more comment. ZeZe, I just wanted to say that what you wrote in the quote I am putting below, was amazing. Spang on. "...instead of getting all upset at others for the requests they make, remember all the privileges you get from being the majority and having almost everything tailored to your religion without you ever having to think about it and be happy for others when they can get at least some of the same comforts." (ZeZe)
Zahra Zahra 9 years
I just want to add 2 more comments. Reasonable religious accommodation is the law in the USA. Even without putting religion in it, it is reasonable to expect not to have a dog lick you or your stuff. For those that feel imposed upon 'they have to accommodate others religious beliefs' likewise your own preferences are being imposed upon others. There has to be give and take but we have to consider as best as possible how to reasonably accommodate each other. Also, I don't think it is a matter of 'people choosing to fly'. Some don't choose to. For example, when my father died unexpectedly, I had no real choice but to fly as it was too far to drive. Technically, I had a choice, but did I really? I am all for security, but it can be done without being forced to do a virtual stripping, or pawed by animals.
Zahra Zahra 9 years
Hi all, As a Muslim woman myself who wears a headscarf and yet is very liberal minded politically, you could not pay me enough to go through one of those scanners. Not a chance. No way, no how, no WAY! First off, recently there was an article somewhere (sorry for lack of source at the moment) that said TSA was saying that it didn't have to be a person of the same gender doing the scanning. Their reasoning was that the person is in the other room and the face is hidden. This is unthinkable to me. Secondly, Even if it is a woman doing the scanning, there is no guarantee that a male won't be nearby or the images somehow end up online. I can see security agencies bypassing the 'guarantees' and keeping pictures for dossiers on people. I don't care if I have a dossier but one with one of those images? Augh. Thirdly, even if it is a woman doing the scanning, according to my interpretation (which is a common one) we should not reveal private areas to others even of the same gender (who are not our spouse). As for the dog issue, apparently something must have happened to bring it up. For most orthodox muslims, dog saliva is impure for the purposes of prayer. It should not get on clothing, or anything that could transfer it to the persons skin. My personal view is that it doesn't bother me if I get dog saliva on me, but I would not want it if it could be avoided. I would consider it rude behavior and rather imposing for one to just let their dog come and lick me or my stuff regardless of the situation. Many traditionally inclined muslims avoid all contact with dogs and don't own them because of the difficulty in keeping the house or person free of saliva. I love dogs, and will happily get another one some day. I will keep him/her out of my prayer room, however. So, it is not like someone is just 'trying to get around the rules'. No, these are things that are embedded in a persons entire lifestyle. We could make some analogies to things that many of you would find 'too far' or 'too invasive'. For example, let us compare being forced to remove the headscarf in front of males to one of you (females) being forced to remove your shirt while standing in line. You might argue that it is not a comparison but that is because you don't understand the internal discomfort for the lady with the scarf. She feels an emotional reaction very similar to what you would feel having to remove your shirt. We can compare people not washing their hands after using the restroom to the issue of the saliva. Many here, I am guessing, would hate to shake hands with someone who didn't do that, right? Germs are not the issue, but the personal emotional reaction is. Because many of you are, I assume, not Muslim, you don't have the same attachment to certain issues. I am not referring to anyone specifically because I just glanced through the comments and don't 'know' any of you. Cheers
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
IMO much misunderstanding is fed by the fact that people often don't listen to each other or try to comprehend the varying points of view. These people often disrespect others' opinions by saying things like: "I haven't read all the comments" but expect others to read theirs.
zeze zeze 9 years
Is it that difficult to use an alternative that doesn't prohibit people from prayer? I haven't read all the comments, but it seems like many people think this is just about being "offended" buy unclean dogs when in fact it is about freedom to practice one's religion - if the use of a dog prohibits prayer then there should be alternatives since flying is so necessary these days. I have to say, it always disappoints me how even on this forum, where a lot of people seem level headed and intelligent, people are still very defensive and would rather be difficult rather than understanding would rather say "screw you" than "maybe there is a better solution." Attitudes like these are there reason there is so much hate and misunderstanding between different groups, instead of getting all upset at others for the requests they make, remember all the privileges you get from being the majority and having almost everything tailored to your religion without you ever having to think about it and be happy for others when they can get at least some of the same comforts.
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