Muslim Woman Denied French Citizenship For Refusing to Shake Hands with Official

People wave the French and Algerian flags during a demonstration against a municipal order banning the 'conspicuous showing' of foreign flags issued by French right-wing UMP mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi (not pictured), following Algeria's fans celebrations during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, on July 05, 2014, in Nice, southeastern …

A French court has confirmed and upheld a previous court ruling which denied French citizenship to a Muslim Algerian woman after the woman refused to engage in a handshake with a senior official.

The origins of the case date back to 2010 when the Algerian woman married a French citizen in her home country of Algeria, and after four years made a request to authorities for French citizenship, La Croix reports.

The prefecture of Isere, where the woman lives, initially accepted her request to become a French citizen and in 2016 she was to attend a citizenship ceremony but during the ceremony, she refused to shake the hands of officials for “religious reasons.”

“After solemnly handing her the naturalization decree, the secretary-general of the prefecture and a local elected representative extended a hand to her as a sign of welcome. But the woman refused these handshakes by invoking her religious beliefs,” an official said.

As a result of the incident, the prefecture decided to revoke the offer of citizenship under the grounds that the woman was not sufficiently integrated into French culture.

The revocation was backed by Article 21-4 of the French Civil Code, which states: “By a decree in Conseil d’Etat, the Government may, on grounds of indignity or lack of assimilation other than linguistic (Act no 2003-1119 of 26 Nov. 2003), oppose the acquisition of French nationality by the foreign spouse within a period of one year after the date of the acknowledgement of receipt.”

The incident is not the first time a Muslim refusing to shake the hand of a member of the opposite sex has caused controversy.

In the Swiss canton of Basel in 2016, several Muslim pupils refused to shake the hand of their teacher, prompting the school board to demand the students shake hands or face potential expulsion and their parents face a fine of up to €4,500.

In Sweden, a Muslim member of the Green Party was heavily criticised for not shaking the hand of a female television journalist and later quit as a result of the backlash.

Former politician Yasri Khan blamed Islamophobia and racism for the row, saying: “There is Islamophobia in Sweden. I am quite sure I would not have been treated like this if I’d been a white man. I wish that Sweden was more tolerant.”

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 



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