Muslim Denied French Citizenship for Refusing Handshake

PARIS – An Algerian Muslim woman who refused to shake hands with officials during her citizenship ceremony has been denied the French citizenship, France’s highest administrative court ruled.

The government said her behavior showed she was “not assimilated into the French community,” Agence France Press reported, quoting a ruling issued on Thursday.

The woman argued that her “religious beliefs” prevented her from shaking hands with a senior official presiding over the citizenship ceremony in the southeastern Isere region in June 2016, as well as with a local politician.

The woman, who has been married to a Frenchman since 2010, appealed the April 2017 decision, calling it an “abuse of power”.

But the Council of State, the court of the last appeal in such matters, ruled the government “had not improperly applied” the law.

With an estimated 5 million Muslims in France, the largest Muslim population in western Europe, Islam is the country’s second religion after Roman Catholicism.

Islam intends to build a community based on chastity, modesty, and bashfulness. Therefore, Islamic teachings have laid restrictions on the interaction between marriageable men and women to block all ways to evil practices. Islam takes prohibitive measures and does not wait for evil to take place.

As a practical solution for any situation Muslims may face, some scholars say that one can shake hand with a strange man who does not know your norm as long as there is no temptation.