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Muslims, sniffer dogs, body scans, and headscarves

Religion News Blog, Amsterdam, Netherlands
June 28, 2008 News Roundup
www.religionnewsblog.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Saturday June 28, 2008

Muslims will be searched by sniffer dogs despite religious objections, say police

Questions have been raised over using sniffer dogs to search Muslim passengers at train stations following complaints that it is against their religion.

Some Muslims had raised objections over being searched by the explosive-detecting animals, but British Transport Police have said they will continue to use the specially trained animals.

Dogs are considered to be unclean or impure in Islamic teaching and it is forbidden to keep the animals as pets.

The complaints came after a rail security trial at Brighton station, the Government revealed.

The Muslims reported that it was not permissible for them to have direct contact with dogs due to their religious or cultural beliefs.

In another trial on the Heathrow Express platform at London’s Paddington station, there were instances when the body scan was considered unacceptable on religious grounds by female Muslims, the Government report said.

- Source: Muslims will be searched by sniffer dogs despite religious objections, say police, Daily Mail, June 27, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Unfortunately, the heaps of extra security measures taken around the world over the past few years have been due largely to the high number of terrorist attacks perpetrated by people who claim to represent the Islamic faith.

Muslims should therefore not attempt to withdraw themselves from such measures on account of their religious sensibilities.


Muslim headscarf divides, disturbs in Denmark

After years of thinly veiled hostility between Copenhagen and the Muslim world, a beauty pageant and a proposed law have Danes locking horns over one potent symbol of Islam: the headscarf.

When Iraqi-born Huda Falah, 18, won Denmark’s first Miss Headscarf competition earlier this month because of “her blue headscarf and her beautiful, irresistible style,” many Danes simply smiled, shrugged and moved on.

Others saw the pageant as emblematic of the growing influence of Islam in Denmark and what some perceive as its anti-democratic and woman-hostile spirit.

“The headscarf symbolises that women are inferior to men (and) I don’t think this is something we should promote through a beauty competition,” Inger Stoejberg, a high-ranking member of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s Liberal Party said in a newspaper interview ahead of the pageant.

Naser Khader, a Muslim member of parliament, agreed, calling instead for a competition for “the best arguments against the headscarf.”

A number of Imams meanwhile slammed the pageant as disrespectful to Denmark’s 200,000 Muslims, who make up 3.5 percent of the population and the country’s second largest religious community after the state-run Lutheran Church.

The fact that the controversy followed on the heels of a nationwide debate over whether judges should be allowed to sit on the bench while wearing the headscarf, or hijab, made it all the more touchy.

“Some Muslims have the feeling they are being pilloried by Danish society,” sociologist and Liberal Party MP Eyvind Vesselbo told AFP.

Although Denmark counts no Muslim judges, a court ruling late last year that the headscarf would be permitted on the bench sparked public outcry.

Following a virulent campaign by the far-right, anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party (DPP) calling the hijab a “symbol of tyranny” that, if allowed inside a courtroom, could usher in Islamic law in Denmark, Justice Minister Lene Espersen proposed a law to overturn the court ruling.

“We have decided to prohibit the wearing of (all) religious or political symbols while exercising the function of a magistrate, because a judge must be neutral and impartial,” she said at the end of April.

According to a poll published last month, the bill, which is expected to pass in parliament later this year, received support from 51 percent of the Danes, while 44 percent were opposed to a ban.

- Source: Muslim headscarf divides, disturbs in Denmark, AFP, June 27, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog


Britain’s leading Muslim police officer sues Met for discrimination

Sir Ian Blair was last night facing his worst race crisis as commissioner of the Metropolitan police, after it was announced that Britain’s most senior Muslim officer would sue the force for racial discrimination and victimisation. The decision was announced after assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, the force’s number three in command, met with Blair, who had summoned him to crisis talks, with the threat of disciplinary action if he refused to attend.

Blair’s attempt to head off the crisis did not work, and after the hour-long meeting, Ghaffur met members of the National Black Police Association (NBPA). Its president and legal adviser, Ali Dizaei, said last night that Ghaffur would sue the force. Dizaei told the Guardian: “No doubt about it, he will sue. He’s just had enough.”

Ghaffur is not only the most senior Muslim and Asian officer in the country, he is also one of the UK’s most senior officers.

Nearly 10 years after the McPherson inquiry found the Met to be “institutionally racist”, Ghaffur’s accusation of discrimination threatens to undermine the force’s claims to have make progress in stamping out racism in its ranks.

He had consulted lawyers for several weeks about taking the Met to an employment tribunal. He believes Blair and his aides have sidelined and undermined him, especially over his role running policing for the London Olympics in 2012.

Dizaei said the government should now intervene. He added: “This is of such significance it should not be left to the police authority [which oversees the Met] to mediate. Senior ministers must get involved because of the risk to confidence in the police.”

In a statement, the NBPA, which will represent and support Ghaffur, said: “AC Ghaffur appears to have been treated extremely poorly. We are totally convinced of the legitimacy of this claim and will be fully supporting AC Ghaffur with regard to this matter, together with the 43 local BPAs around the country.”

- Source: Vikram Dodd, Britain’s leading Muslim police officer sues Met for discrimination, The Guardian, June 27, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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