Switzerland

Muslim brothers refuse to shake female teachers' hands, Swiss halts citizenship process

EUROPE-MIGRANTS/GERMANY Switzerland’s population of eight million people includes an estimated 3,50,000 Muslims | Reuters
  • The brothers, aged 14 and 15, said physical contact with women who were not family members was against their faith. Their father is a Syrian imam, who moved to Switzerland in 2001 and was granted asylum there.

Switzerland has suspended the citizenship process for the family of two teenage Muslim brothers, who refused to shake hands with female teachers, reports said.

The brothers, aged 14 and 15, said physical contact with women who were not family members was against their faith. Their father is a Syrian imam, who moved to Switzerland in 2001 and was granted asylum there.

As a result, the teenagers were exempted from a Swiss custom of pupils shaking teachers’ hands. Subsequently, education officials in the northern municipality of Therwil instructed them to avoid contact with male teachers as well to avoid gender discrimination.

However, the compromise sparked a heated response from leading Swiss politicians including Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga who insisted that “shaking hands is part of (Swiss) culture”, BBC has reported.

The case has sparked a debate about religious freedoms, and the Basel-Country canton has requested an expert legal opinion on the matter.

A spokesman for the canton said naturalisation proceedings for the family had been put on hold, but added that such suspensions were common in citizenship procedures.

With agency inputs

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Topics : #Muslim | #Europe

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