UK Muslims and dogs … what’s the fuss?

As the frenzy over Muslims’ stance from a police plan to use sniffing dogs in public places keeps making headlines across the UK, British Muslims affirmed that the fuss is actually about nothing, since their religion does not forbid using dogs for security reasons. “There is no harm in using trained dogs for security purposes,” Mufti Dr Shah Sadruddin, of Jamiatul Ulama UK (the Council of Muslim Scholars), told

The controversy erupted late last month, with the newspapers reporting that some Muslims had raised objections over being searched by the explosive-detecting animals at train stations. The issue turned into a public debate a week later, with reports that Scottish Muslims are protesting an advert publicizing the police’s new non-emergency telephone number for picturing a puppy. Scottish Muslims have rebuffed the report, stressing that a picture a dog is not offensive to their religion.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission in the UK, believes the issue of sniffer dogs “can be resolved with sensitivity. Some people might have problems praying after being sniffed,” Shadjareh said. “But I understand that trained dogs don’t need to actually make physical contact.”

For many Britons, the uproar over Muslims’ stance from dogs is totally taken out of proportion. “I’ve read some real bile aimed at Muslims over this – the internet is full of it,” Sandy Shaughnessy, 23, told IOL. “Everyone is asking why the rest of the white, civilised, free world has to accommodate these hateful Muslims. The reality is so different.” Shaughnessy says that the media has whipped up hatred against Muslims over the issue, while Muslims did not have the chance to explain their position. “Muslims don’t have the right wing media to magnify and manipulate a situation to such an extent. I don’t think it’s a massive problem, but it has escalated.”

Emdad Rahman reports. Islam Online, 6 July 2008