By Daily Mail Reporter
A Muslim woman was barred from boarding a flight to Pakistan after refusing to go through a new ‘naked’ full-body scanner at Manchester Airport on religious grounds.
Her companion also declined to be scanned for ‘medical reasons’.
The women were travelling together to Islamabad when they were selected to pass through the controversial security screen after checking-in at terminal two at the airport.
An estimated 15,000 have already passed through the scanners, with the pair the first passengers to refuse a scan.
Both told airport staff they were not willing to be scanned. They were warned they would not be allowed to board the Pakistan International Airlines flight if they refused.
The pair decided they would rather forfeit their £400 tickets and left the airport with their luggage.
The £80,000 scanners were introduced at Heathrow and Manchester airports on February 5.
The X-ray machines allow security staff to see a ‘naked’ image of passengers to show up hidden weapons and explosives, but it has attracted criticism for also showing clear outlines of passengers’ genitals.
Manchester Airport confirmed the passengers had refused to be scanned but said it had received no complaint from the women.
However, civil liberties campaigners say the incident could form the basis of a legal test case to challenge the use of the Rapiscan device in airports.
Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said the organisation would represent the women if they wished to challenge the decision in court.
He said: ‘People shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health, their faith, their dignity, or their privacy in order to fly.
‘People with health and religious concerns shouldn’t be forced to go through these scanners if they have good reason not to. Foolishly, the government has ignored both issues and ignored privacy concerns to boot – they are in the wrong on this.’
There is one Rapiscan scanner in use in a trial at Manchester Airport’s terminal two, which has seen 15,000 people pass through it. A further two devices – one each for terminals one and three – have been delivered and are set to be operational within the next month.
The scanners have been criticised by the human rights group Liberty and the government’s own Equality and Human Rights Commission.
A Manchester Airport spokesman said: ‘Two female passengers who were booked to fly out of Terminal Two refused to be scanned for medical and religious reasons.
‘In accordance with the government directive on scanners, they were not permitted to fly.
‘Body scanning is a big change for customers and we are aware that privacy concerns are on our customers’s minds, which is why we have put strict procedures in place to reassure them that their privacy will be protected.’
Two weeks ago, a week after the scanners were introduced at Manchester and Heathrow airports, Islamic scholars in the U.S. said Muslim travellers should not pass through the scanners because they violate religious rules on nudity.
In the U.S., there are now 40 scanners in 19 airports and could be as many as 450 by the end of the year.