A report for the Transport Department has raised the prospect that the animals should only touch passengers’ luggage because it is considered “more acceptable”.In the Muslim faith, dogs are deemed to be spiritually “unclean”. But banning them from touching passengers would severely restrict their ability to do their job.The report follows trials of station security measures in the wake of the 2005 London suicide bomb attacks. In one trial, some female Muslims said the use of a body scanner was also unacceptable because it was tantamount to being forced to strip.
British Transport Police last night insisted it would still use sniffer dogs – which are trained to detect explosives – with any passengers regardless of faith, but handlers would remain aware of “cultural sensitivities”.
Critics said the complaints were just the latest example of minority religions trying to force their rules and morals on British society.Tory MP Philip Davies said: “As far as I am concerned, everyone should be treated equally in the face of the law and we cannot have people of different religious groups laying the law down. I hope the police will go about their business as they would do normally.”News of the security setback came as the Government yesterday admitted that installing 100 per cent airport-style screening at rail and Tube stations was “not feasible”.
Instead, extra sniffer dogs and X-ray machines will be used to search passengers.During the trials, passengers stopped in London had the exterior of their bags checked by dogs. But in Brighton, dogs patrolled the station concourse and were walked past passengers by their handlers.The report concluded: “The use of sniffer dogs was generally problematic for Muslim respondents on religious grounds if there was the potential for the dog to make direct contact with them.”
When Muslims have washed for certain forms of worship, they would have to repeat the ritual if they came into contact with a dog.One young Asian man told researchers: “We are not supposed to have dogs. It is against our religion.”Another Asian man said: “I don’t mind dogs in the park or walking near me, but sniffer dogs? I don’t think that’s right, on the station, the way they use them.”