Man denied German citizenship for refusing to shake woman’s hand at naturalisation ceremony

A man who aced his German naturalisation test has been refused citizenship after he refused to shake hands with the female official responsible for handing over his award.

The 40-year-old doctor, who left Lebanon for Germany in 2002, said he had promised his wife he would not shake another woman’s hand, and that he was prevented from doing so for religious reasons.

But a court in the southwestern state of Baden-Wurttemberg ruled that rejecting handshakes with women due to a “fundamentalist conception of culture and values” was a rejection of “integration into German living conditions”, German newspaper Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.

The doctor, a practicing senior physician, applied for citizenship in 2012, signing a declaration denouncing extremism and expressing loyalty to the German constitution.

But when in 2015 he refused to shake hands with the official at the naturalisation ceremony, she withheld his certificate and rejected his application.

The doctor’s initial appeal against the ruling was rejected by the Stuttgart Administrative Court, before the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg did the same. However the judge said he could still appeal in federal court due to the significance of the case.

In its ruling, the court said anyone who refuses a handshake on grounds of gender is in breach of the country’s constitution and that handshakes, “deeply rooted in social, cultural and legal life”, symbolised the conclusion of a contract.

It made no difference, the judge said, that the doctor had since announced he would also refuse to shake hands with men.

The ruling ironically came amid warnings from health officials for citizens to avoid shaking hands during the coronavirus pandemic. The judge, however, said he was convinced the practice would continue once the crisis was over.

The case comes two years after a Muslim couple were denied Swiss citizenship for refusing to shake hands with members of the opposite sex. Switzerland also in 2016 rejected citizenship requests from two Muslim girls who refused to take part in swimming lessons with boys at school.

(The Independent )

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