Does Islam forbid women from shaking hands with men? Some time ago, two Syrian Muslim boys refused to shake hands with their female teachers, claiming that Islam forbids males from shaking hands with or having any physical contact with females who are not from the same family with them.

This issue led to the Swiss Government halting their application for citizenship. Does it mean that Islamic norms often contradict what is obtainable in the society of today?

This incident sparked a national debate over religious freedoms as well as health issues in Switzerland. While some people share the view that one can refuse to shake hands with his or her teacher, others argue that students should not refuse to shake hands with their school teachers.

Justice Minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, insisted that “shaking hands is part of Swiss culture”. This is one of the reasons why some Governments are skeptical when it comes to allowing foreigners into their countries and therefore, they have strict immigration procedures in place.

The Swiss Government seems to support the fact that one can refuse to shake hands with others but it should not be based on religious reasons.

The two brothers, aged 14 and 15, who are sons of a Syrian political refugee granted asylum in 2001, have reportedly informed education officials in the northern municipality of Therwil that physical contact with women who are not family members violated their interpretation of Islam.

Muslims seem to have different interpretations of Islam. Can one interpret Islam to suit his or her purpose at any time?

a few years ago, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Bulent Arınc, expressed his opinion on how a woman should behave in public when he said:

“She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness.” The fact is the sharia law contradicts what is obtainable in the western part of the world.

Officials in Therwil have instructed the two boys to equally avoid contact with male teachers also to avoid gender discrimination.

This means the Muslim boys have been officially exempted from the Swiss custom of pupils or students shaking hands with their teachers.

Georges Thüring, the president of the commission that oversees local citizenship applications said “I don’t think we can talk of integration in relation to handshake objectors. Personally, I would reject their request.”

“as president of the commission, I assure you that the request will be examined properly, like any other,” he added.

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