Man Denied Citizenship For Refusing To Shake Woman’s Hand

KEY POINTS 

  • He was not granted citizenship since he refused to shake hands with the responsible officer when the naturalization certificate was given in 2015. The officer, therefore, revoked the certificate and rejected his application.
  • The doctor argued that he had promised his wife not to shake hands with other women.
  • The court determined that anyone who declines to shake hands on gender-specific grounds is in breach of the equality enshrined in the German constitution.

A German court ruled that a Muslim man refused to shake the hand of a woman should not be granted German citizenship.

The 40-year-old Lebanese doctor said he refused to shake the hands of women for religious reasons.

The Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg (VGH) ruled that anyone who declines a handshake because of a “fundamentalist conception of culture and values” since they view women as “danger of sexual temptation” was thereby rejecting “integration into German living conditions.”

The doctor applied for citizenship through naturalization in 2012 where he signed a declaration of loyalty to the German constitution and against extremism. He passed the naturalization test with great scores.

However, he was not granted citizenship since he refused to shake hands with the responsible officer when the naturalization certificate was given in 2015. The officer, therefore, revoked the certificate and rejected his application.

The doctor argued that he had promised his wife not to shake hands with other women.

The court described a handshake as a common nonverbal greeting and farewell ritual, which are independent of the sex of those involved, further stating that the practice goes back centuries.

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

Handshake is, therefore “deeply rooted in social, cultural, and legal life, which shapes the way we live together,” the judge said as reported by DW.

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

In addition, the refusal of the man in the case had the effect of lending validity to a “Salafist perspective” on the social ramifications of relations between men and women.

The court said it made no difference that the man had now declared he will not also shake the hands of other men too.

The man maintained that he wanted to affirm the equality of women and men, but the court found that was just a tactical move.

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