One such example has recently occurred at an institution of higher learning in the United Kingdom. In September of 2013, Birmingham Metropolitan College attempted an on-campus ban of the niqab, the religious cloth that many Muslim women chose to wear, which conceals their entire body. The college administration cited security concerns as the main factor for implementing the controversial decision. Being unable to identify an individual’s facial features, beyond the eyes, was the stated source of apprehension. The proposal of a ban created an intense controversy. However, one can wonder whether there is a more suitable option for ensuring security for the public, while still safeguarding the religious and cultural values of all citizens.
In situations where individuals wish to remain completely covered in religious attire, proper identification can be difficult to achieve, as the case in the U.K. would suggest. However, biometric-based security might provide an option that can guarantee safety while ensuring a respect for religious norms. For example, an iris-scanning device, is able to positively identify an individual without the subject being forced to remove any articles of clothing. A device such as the UltraMatch, by Anviz Global Biometrics, could achieve the desired objective. In this case, subjects can be successfully scanned at a distance of between 18 and 25 centimeters from the device. No contact is required between the subject and the device. Only the eyes are required to be visible to the machine. Furthermore, the device is fully automated, and is an ideal option, rather than dealing with security personnel.
In deeply religious societies, such as some in Middle East, iris recognition is a more suitable form of security identification than facial recognition. An iris identification device, such as the UltraMatch, solves a major problem that critics highlight about the connection between biometric security and socio-religious values. From this perspective, it is important to recognize that biometric technology has the flexibility to be compatible with social norms and values. Rather than undermining core traditions and beliefs, biometrics can help alleviate a major point of tension between the realms of religion and security.
Anviz is an international biometric security company with six offices worldwide. The company offers a broad range of access control and time attendance products, ranging from biometrics, to surveillance, and RFID devices.