Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’


From the Swiss edition of The Local

A school in the canton of Basel-Country has rejected the appeal of a Muslim schoolboy who refused to shake hands with his female teachers for religious reasons. 

The boy was one of two teenage brothers at a high school in Therwil who caused a nationwide furore earlier this year when they said shaking hands with female teachers went against their religion, which forbids physical contact with a member of the opposite sex who isn’t family.

In an attempt to find a compromise but avoid discrimination against women, the school initially agreed to exempt the boys from shaking hands with all teachers, regardless of gender.

However the situation subsequently triggered outrage across Switzerland because it was seen as an affront to an intrinsic part of Swiss culture – shaking hands with teachers is a common custom in Swiss schools.

The canton’s education authorities then intervened and ruled that the boys must shake their teachers’ hands or face disciplinary measures, as well as a fine (issued to their parents) of up to 5,000 francs.

The disciplinary measures could take the form of an oral warning or debate with parents, and would aim to educate pupils on the subject, they said.

At the time the canton’s education department said: “The public interest with respect to equality between men and women and the integration of foreigners significantly outweighs the freedom of conscience (freedom of religion) of the students.”

In November the canton will consider a bill to amend Basel’s education laws to “provide future clarity” on the issue, she added. The proposed law would make it obligatory for schools to report any pupils who refuse to shake hands to the Swiss migration office (SEM). Since the case erupted, the family involved have had their application for Swiss citizenship suspended, pending further discussion.

3 Responses

  1. This is how the western countries should have approached all immigrant customs that do not reflect those of the host country. Instead of accommodating FGM, multiple wives, prayer rooms in workplaces etc. the immigrants should have been told NO…we don't allow that. Many immigration problems that have occurred over the years would have been avoided.

  2. What a bunch of nonsense.  Time must weigh heavy on the hands of school adminstrators in Switzerland to concoct such an issue.  Who is disrespected or inconvenienced by a child's principled refusal to shake hands?  Has that anything to do with education?   Contrast this tempest in a teapot with the case of a male air traveler who on religious grounds refuses to sit next to a female, and insists that the female with an assigned boarding pass move to another seat to accommodate him.  That violates the rights of other passengers who were given seats they occupy on the plane.   The children in question don't propose to bother anyone.   In the United States those who object to war unconditionally are exempted from conscription on the basis of religious principle.  A host nation must exercise a modicum of circimspection in imposing requirements on its ethnic minorities, especially where there is a principled objection.  By itself, giving a handshake just doesn't possess enough importance to warrant punitive measures imposed by self-important authorities.

  3. The adolescent will not shake the hand of a female teacher by recourse to precisely which principle? That he simply does not want to, nyanyanya-nya-ya? Or that the woman is approximately one quarter the value of the Muselman, i.e., one half the value minus a quarter for being an infidelle? Or for being unclean – inherent in her femaleness? Or that he might become priapically discombobulated by the hand? Or, that Da will permanently dispatch him to Mohammed should he be deferentially respecfult to a kafir? Or that he refuses on the basis of the natural dispensation given to him and all Muselmänner by Allah? Or that it’s the will of Allah that he remain a punk pisher?

    Tha camels’s nose in the tent had not insinuated itself unbidden. It first asked permission and received it. There commenced the jihad. Had Switzerland been mine to tend to, the entire family would be deposited atop the nearest MidEast sand dune.

    When in Rome… is not so bad a notion. Not nearly so bad as about a thousand and one Islamic notions. In fact it’s quite estimable… in Rome, Basel… anywhere.

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