On hold

Muslim teens’ citizenship process halted after refusing to shake hands with female teachers

(FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

The citizenship process of a Muslim family in Switzerland has been halted after two brothers, aged 14 and 15, refused to shake the hands of their female teachers because physical contact with women outside their own family would violate their faith. While education officials in their northern municipality of Therwil had originally exempted them from taking part in the custom of shaking your teacher’s hands (including the male ones — to avoid gender discrimination), this drew widespread criticism from leading Swiss politicians and ignited a debate on religious freedom. On Tuesday, it was announced that their citizenship process had been put on hold, with authorities claiming such suspensions were commonplace when they needed additional information on the concerned family. Basel-Country, where Therwil is located is now seeking an expert legal opinion on the case.

Switzerland, a country of 8 million with an estimated population of 350,000 Muslims has faced similar disputes in the past, when parents demanded their daughters would not to participate in swimming lessons, for example.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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