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Muslim Man Denied German Citizenship For Refusing To Shake Woman’s Hand

A Muslim man was denied naturalization after refusing to shake the hand of the woman officiating his hearing | Image: Shutterstock

A German court has ruled that a Muslim doctor should not be granted citizenship after he refused to shake hands with the woman presenting him with his naturalisation certificate.

The unnamed 40-year-old Lebanese doctor who arrived in Germany in 2002 refused to shake the hands of women for religious reasons.

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The court in Baden-Württemburg ruled that those declining to partake of handshakes due to a “fundamentalist conception of culture and values” because they view women as “a danger of sexual temptation” were rejecting “integration into German living conditions.”

The man was on the brink of becoming a German after living in the country for 13 years, completing his medical studies and passing a citizenship test with the highest possible mark.

But at the final hurdle, he refused to shake the hand of the female official at the ceremony in 2015 which made state authorities to withhold the certificate and reject the application.

He argued that he had promised his wife not to shake hands with another woman.

His petition against the ruling was unsuccessful before the Stuttgart Administrative Court and he appealed to the VGH. Following its decision Saturday, the court said that the man can appeal to the Federal Administrative Court due to the fundamental significance of the case.

The VGH described a handshake as a common nonverbal greeting and farewell ritual, which are independent of the sex of the involved parties, adding that the practise goes back centuries.

The judge found that the handshake also has a legal meaning, in that it symbolizes the conclusion of a contract.

The handshake is, therefore “deeply rooted in social, cultural and legal life, which shapes the way we live together,” the judge said.

The court found that anyone who refuses to shake hands on gender-specific grounds is in breach of the equality enshrined in the German constitution.

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