Muslim man who refused to shake woman’s hand denied citizenship

Berlin: A Lebanese Muslim man has been denied German citizenship after a court ruled that his refusal to handshake with opposite gender reflected fundamentalist views which were not in line with his integration into German society.

The 39-year-old Lebanese national had been living in Germany since 2002. He had completed his medical studies and married a woman of Syrian origin 10 years ago. He had completed all his paperwork and vowed to uphold the German constitution and reject extremism. He was about to become a German national while passing a citizenship test with the highest possible mark.

But his refusal to handshake with the opposite gender became a hurdle in the process of securing German citizenship. In 2015, the Muslim doctor refused to shake a female official’s hand at a ceremony in 2015. The move reportedly led his denial of citizenship by the state authorities.

Five years later, a court upheld authorities’ decision of citizenship integration to the Muslim doctor, ruling that the doctor’s ‘fundamentalist views’ were not in line with his integration into German society.

The court in Mannheim said that the ‘handshake incident’ made his integration into society difficult. The court observed that if the applicant routinely refused the handshake for gender-specific reasons then there was no integration into German living conditions.

Refusal to a handshake is not compatible with the constitution, said the court, adding “this applies in particular if the refusal to shake hands with the opposite sex.”

The court further observed that the man’s refusal stemmed from his belief that women posed a danger of sexual temptation.

It is learnt that the Muslim doctor stopped shaking hands since 2018 but the court termed it as a tactical step to obtain citizenship. It further said that the act of shaking hands was deep-rooted into Western society.

The judges observed that handshakes were common rituals in greeting and farewell that taken place regardless of social status, gender or other personal characteristics of the people. The man has, however, the remedy to challenge the decision before a federal court.

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