Muslim Students Question Swiss Handshake Custom-Truth!

Muslim Students Question Swiss Handshake Custom-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:
Muslim students questioned a Swiss tradition that teachers can demand handshakes from their students because their religion forbids contact with females that aren’t family members.
The Truth:
Accounts of two Muslim students objecting to the Swiss handshake tradition for religious reasons are true
In Switzerland, it’s tradition for schoolteacher to shake students’ hands before and after class in a show of respect. After two Muslim students refused to shake a female teacher’s hand because their religion forbids contact with non-family member females, a school district in Basel County granted the boys an exemption that allowed them to refuse shaking all teachers’ hands, not just females ones, in April, Swiss Info reports:

On Monday, school officials spoke out for the first time, defending their decision. School rector Jürg Lauener said a compromise had been reached with the students involved, in that they also do not shake the hands of male teachers.

“They are no longer allowed to shake the hand of any teacher, male or female. For us, that addresses the question of discrimination,” Lauener told Swiss public television, SRF

That touched off a debate with the Swiss teachers’ union arguing that “the same rules should apply to all students” and that it was the wrong signal to send since the boys would need to shake hands with peers and colleagues of both sexes in the future lives.
In May, a regional school board overturned the local school board’s decision to exempt the boys from handshakes and concluded that school districts could fine students about $6,500 if they refused to comply, the National Post reports:

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.

So, it’s true that two Muslim teenagers objected to the Swiss student-teacher handshake tradition and were later forced to comply or face a hefty fine.

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