Orthodox: Naked airport scans 'a necessity'

We have to accept they are necessary, says Orthodox community

By Robyn Rosen, March 18, 2010

The strictly Orthodox community has given its support to new airport security scanners which produce "naked" images, saying it "understands it is a necessity".

Manchester Airport trialled the invasive scanners before the government decided to implement them nationally in February, beginning with Manchester and Heathrow, after the attempt by the so-called "Underwear Bomber" to attack a flight to Detroit.

The scanners produce a three-dimensional image which can reveal concealed weapons and explosives, but the image also shows details of the passenger's naked body.

Earlier this month, a Muslim woman was not allowed to board a plane after refusing, for religious reasons, to go through the scanner.

But Chanoch Kesselman, executive co-ordinator of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, said: "The Orthodox community has no objection to screening by security scanners in airports. It is no worse than similar procedures in a hospital."

Rabbi Yehuda Brodie, from Manchester Beth Din, said: "One appreciates security is a major concern, but it's a sad statement that these sorts of invasive things have to take place.

"It's symptomatic of our times that something so intrusive is necessary and that the agenda is being set by terrorists. It's absurd if things are heading in that direction - but from a halachic perspective, it is not prohibited."

Ita Symons, chief executive of the Agudas Israel Housing Association, in Stamford Hill, said: "It's not dignified, and it would be very upsetting, but how can I go against it when it is a necessity?

"I'd be upset at the thought of someone seeing the image, but I accept they have to sharpen their security measures. I think the danger is so real, and so great. You can never go too far if there are terrorists out there."

A spokesman at the Department of Transport said that passengers can request to be scanned by someone of the same sex.

He said: "The image is completely destroyed as soon as the person has gone through the machine. The people operating the scanners are removed from the machinery themselves so they can't see to whom the image relates."

Last updated: 4:40pm, March 18 2010