Muslim passengers may not be touched by sniffer dogs of the British Transport Police after complaints that the practice is against Islam. According to the religion, dogs are deemed to be spiritually unclean. A Transport Department report has raised the prospect that animals should only touch passengers’ luggage because it is considered more acceptable, the Daily Express reported. The ban may restrict the efficiency of sniffer dog squads which have been trained to spot terrorists at railway stations. On Thursday night, British Transport Police insisted that it would still use sniffer dogs with any passengers regardless of faith, but handlers would remain aware of cultural sensitivities. The Transport Department report follows the trials of station security measures in the wake of the 2005 London suicide bomb attacks. In one trial, certain Muslim women said the use of a body scanner was also unacceptable because it amounted to being forced to strip.
With his plea for recognition of the Muslim legal system in Britain, the archbishop of Canterbury has outraged his people. In doing so, he has driven a wedge into the center of a passionate national debate. He should have known what he was getting into. Rowan Williams, 57, the archbishop of Canterbury, is an educated man, a noted poet and a brilliant theologian. But he’s never been a very skilled politician. And so it happened. Last Thursday, Williams stood before 1,000 spectators in London’s Royal Courts of Justice. He’s a man with a white beard and white hair sprouting in all directions. In his warm baritone voice, he spoke about the relationship between civil and religious law. It was a complicated speech, one that wasn’t easy to understand. But it ignited a raging debate. A day later, The Sun tabloid labeled him a “a dangerous threat to our nation,” and the Daily Express wrote that he had capitulated to Muslim extremists. The tabloids used words such as “outcry” and “rage” to_describe the public reaction and called for him to resign. Mathieu von Rohr reports.