Muslim girls denied Swiss citizenship for refusing to swim with boys


GENEVA: Swiss authorities have rejected the naturalisation application of two Muslim girls who refused to take swimming lessons at their school alongside boys, reported USA Today.

The girls, aged 12 and 14, refused to take the compulsory lessons claiming their faith prevents them from swimming with males.

The Basel residents had applied for the Swiss citizenship a few months ago but their application was rejected because they “did not comply with the school curriculum”, local authorities were quoted as saying.

“Whoever doesn’t fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalised,” Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalisation committee, told TV station SRF on Tuesday, according to USA Today.

The case is another example of Swiss authorities’ reluctance to grant citizenship to those who balk at accustomising with any aspect of Swiss culture.

Earlier in 2012, a family was fined $1,500 for forbidding their daughters to participate in swimming classes.

In April this year, the Swiss authorities put a halt to the naturalisation applications of two Muslim brothers, aged 14 and 15, who refused to shake hands with their female teacher.

They informed their school that physical contact with women who are not family members violated their Islamic faith.

The boys were then exempted from a Swiss custom of pupils shaking teachers’ hands, with officials instructing them to avoid contact with male teachers as well to avoid gender discrimination. However, the Swiss authorities later reversed the school’s decision

“A teacher has the right to demand a handshake,” said a statement released by the authorities.

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