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School row over handshake

Muslim boys object to shaking woman teacher's hand

The government in Switzerland has criticised a decision by a school in the north of the country to exempt male Muslim students from shaking hands with their female teachers. It's customary for teachers in Switzerland to shake hands with their students before and after class. But two male students from Therwil in the canton of Basel, argued that Islam did not permit physical contact with a person of the opposite sex. In an attempt at avoiding discrimination, school officials stipulated that the two would not have to shake hands with male teachers either. The school has defended its decision, but the Swiss Justice Minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, criticised the move, saying handshakes were part of Swiss culture. The Swiss Federation of Islamic Organisations said handshakes between men and women were theologically permissible and were common in some Muslim countries.
Newsday spoke to Professor of Islamic Studies Saeed Khan.

(Picture - a handshake captured in London in 2010. Credit; Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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