Citizenship process suspended for Muslim family after boys refused to shake hands with female teacher

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One European country is taking a no-nonsense approach to Muslim immigration: Assimilate or leave.

When the two teenaged boys of a Muslim family refused to shakes hands with their female teacher, Switzerland brought the family’s immigration and citizenship process to a grinding halt.

This in turn has sparked a national debate on the issue of religious freedom, according to DNAIndia.

The family claims that physical contact with any woman who is not a family member violates the tenets of Islam.

The boys, age 14 and 15, were exempted from shaking their female teacher’s hand but were told they couldn’t discriminate by sex — they were told to avoid similar contact with male non-family members.

But “shaking hands is part of (Swiss) culture, insisted Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga.

Because of the brouhaha, authorities in the canton of Basel-Country, which includes the municipality of Therwil, where the family is located, placed the family’s citizenship process on hold.

Basel-Country spokesman Adrian Baumgartner, in an email, confirmed a report from the ATS news agency on the suspension.

The report also noted that such suspensions are common in citizenship procedures as authorities often require supplemental information about the families concerned.


Therwil agreed to provide Basel-Country canton authorities with a legal opinion on the matter.

The father of the boys was granted asylum in Switzerland in 2001. He is a Syrian national.

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