An attempt by the German President to praise a school for integrating migrant students went embarrassingly wrong after a Muslim student refused to shake his hand.
Joachim Gauck visited the city of Offenbach at the end of November to see a school that has been commended for its attempts to integrate migrants into German society.
Media reports at the time focused on how the politician received a “Rockstar” welcome from students, with news site Focus describing how children said things such as “Wow, it’s so cool” and “he’s so human”, while holding signs in German, Arabic and Russian welcoming their head-of-state.
The President, whose role is largely ceremonial, visited the Theodor Heuss School to praise its work on helping migrant children learn the German language and culture.
— Amy Mek (@AmyMek) December 17, 2016
However, TV cameras captured the moment when he was shaking the hands of some of the students and a girl wearing a hijab drew her hand away and placed it on her chest as he tried to shake it.
President Gauck seemed momentarily confused before quickly moving on to the next person.
The moment was largely ignored by Germany’s mainstream media, which preferred to focus on the otherwise enthusiastic response the President received and the work the school was doing.
Any physical contact between men and women who are not married is strongly frowned upon in radical Islam. Breitbart London reported in September how the number of Muslims in Germany turning to Salafism, a particularly extreme version of the faith, had almost doubled in the past three years.
Despite concerns over radicalism, however, some have questioned whether migrants should integrate at all.
In October, Breitbart London reported how one sociologist said that instead of migrants integrating themselves into German culture, Germans should integrate themselves into the migrant cultures.
Annette Treibel said Germany was an “immigration country” with no overarching dominant culture, and that every asylum seeker, immigrant and refugee has the right to claim that they are “indigenous” to Germany.
Several educators have also called on Germans to learn Arabic to help migrants who are unwilling to learn German, while others have called for European nations to put up signs in Arabic to help newly-arrived migrants.