Muslim boys must shake female teachers’ hands despite religious beliefs, Swiss school board rules

shake hand

Source: Telegraph UK

A school board in northern Switzerland said on Wednesday that two Muslim boys who have refused to shake hands with their female teachers for religious reasons can be required to do so, ruling that their parents could face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs (about £3,430) if they don’t.

A public school in the northeastern Therwil municipality had sought the regional school board’s advice after accepting the boys’ belief that they should only willingly touch the women whom they will eventually marry.

The school had temporarily exempted the teens from shaking hands with teachers.

The boys’ refusal set off a debate in Switzerland, which has a tradition of handshake greetings.

Like elsewhere in Europe, Switzerland has at times struggled to strike the right cultural balance amid a recent influx of Muslims and other newcomers.

“The public interest concerning the equality of men and women as well as the integration of foreigners significantly outweighs the pupils’ freedom of religion and belief,” the school board said in a statement.

“The social gesture of shaking hands is important if pupils are to be prepared for working life.”

Under the decision, teachers at the school can require their students to shake hands.

Refusal to comply could land the parents with a warning, a call to a meeting with school leaders, other disciplinary measures, and in the extreme, fines of up to 5,000 francs as part of standard school policies, the board said.

Sanctions would need to have “an educational purpose and be proportionate,” it said.

The Central Islamic Council of Switzerland accused the authorities of “grossly overstepping their competency,” saying such measures won’t help integration but rather contribute to a feeling of alienation among Muslims.

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2 replies

  1. I find this decision perfectly reasonable. No where the Quran says that young boys should not shake hands of their teachers.

    It is a good gesture, teaching young minds to strike balance between their religious and societal responsibilities and be respectful of their teachers, regardless of gender.

    For centuries male doctors in the Muslim societies have taken care of female patients, sometimes in very intimate ways, and female nurses have taken care of male patients and the religious zealots have chosen to ignore the issue. Now for some short sighted political gain rather than assimilate in host societies, Muslim zealots have made an issue out of a non-issue.

    The Muslim Times wants to promote secularism in every country of the world and that requires give and take from all parties and not insistence on our ‘pound of flesh.’

  2. I agree with brother Zia, but a 5000 Francs fine? Would I be happy for someone to shake my hand just because he/she does not feel like paying a fine?

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