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Muslim couple denied Swiss citizenship after refusing handshake

Muslim couple denied Swiss citizenship after refusing handshake

A Muslim couple have been denied Swiss citizenship after they refused to shake hands with people of the opposite sex during their interview, officials say.

BBC News reports that the officials confirmed the decision on Friday, August 17, further citing the couple's failure to integrate and respect gender equality. gathered that the couple, interviewed months ago, also struggled to answer questions by members of the opposite sex.

Days ago, a Swedish Muslim woman reportedly won compensation after a job interview was ended when she refused to shake hands.

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The Swiss authorities said aspiring citizens must be well integrated into the Swiss community and demonstrate an attachment to Switzerland, its institutions and a respect for the Swiss legal order.

They did not, however, reveal specifics about the couple, who local media said were North African, but confirmed they felt the couple had failed to meet citizenship criteria when they applied in the city of Lausanne.

The mayor of Lausanne, Gregoire Junod, freedom of religion was enshrined in local laws but "religious practice does not fall outside the law."

The couple were not asked about their faith, authorities said, though their religion seemed apparent, local media reported.

Officials stressed they were not rejected based on their religion but for their lack of respect for gender equality.

“The constitution and equality between men and women prevail over bigotry,” said Pierre-Antoine Hilbrand, who was part of the commission that interviewed the couple.

BBC recalls that this is not the first time refused handshakes have stirred controversy in Switzerland.

In 2016, a Swiss school decided to exempt two Muslim boys from shaking both male and female teachers' hands after they refused to shake hands with a female teacher. The news caused an uproar and led to the family's citizenship process being suspended.

In neighbouring France, an Algerian woman was denied citizenship after refusing to shake the hand of an official during her citizenship ceremony.

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Meanwhile, had previously reported that Muslim groups criticised the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for allowing part of its examination clash with the Friday Jummat prayer.

In the timetable for 2018 May/June Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE), candidates were scheduled to write Chemistry paper from 2pm to 5pm on Friday, April 20.

The paper would clash with Muslim Friday prayers which usually hold between 1.30 pm to 3pm.

Ishaq Akintola, president of MURIC, said the timetable was an “injustice” against Muslims, whom he claimed had become “endangered species.”

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