Over the weekend it emerged that a Muslim couple in Switzerland were denied citizenship after refusing to shake hands of people of the opposite gender during an interview pertaining to their citizenship process.
Now two Danish parties, Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Konservative (K), want to make it mandatory in Denmark for people to shake hands with mayors of their respective municipalities during citizenship ceremonies.
“A handshake must simply be a demand. If you want to be a Danish citizen, you need to be prepared to greet politely and decently with other people. And in Denmark that means shaking hands. That’s just how it is,” Martin Henriksen, the DF spokesperson for immigration issues, told Ekstra Bladet tabloid.
During a citizenship ceremony in Denmark – at which attendance is now obligatory thanks to the new citizenship law earlier this summer – applicants must sign that they will respect the founding values of Denmark and be respectful to representatives of government. Henriksen believes that means a handshake.
A fair shake?
Naser Khader, the K spokersperson for immigration issues, didn’t think the issue will be a problem.
“For some people, citizenship is so critical they would give their right arm. So they’d probably shake hands as well. You have to take the whole package and it encompasses a ceremony in which you make a declaration of loyalty and shake hands. In Denmark we shake hands,” Khader told Ekstra Bladet.
Another party, Liberal Alliance, has revealed it has yet to decide whether a handshake should be obligatory during citizenship ceremonies.
Back in Switzerland, the government claims the Muslim couple were denied citizenship due to their inability to integrate and lack of respect for gender equality.
A similar case in Sweden, which involved an employer terminating a job interview with a Muslim woman because she refused to shake hands, ended up in court where a judge ordered the employer to pay the woman almost 30,000 kroner in damages.