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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