Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Is shaking hands with the opposite sex "a part of daily education"?

Netherlands Defends Muslim Student Handshake Refusal

AMSTERDAM, March 28, 2006

( & News Agencies)

The Dutch Commission for Equal Treatment censured on Monday, March 27, an education center for discriminating against a Muslim student for refusing to shake hands with male colleagues.
"Every school has the duty to be free of discrimination and treat men and women equally. This duty extends to individual students who refuse physical contact on religious grounds," the government-funded commission said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

The adult education center in the Dutch central town of Amersfoort turned down the woman's application to study to become an education assistant, saying handshaking was part of daily education.
The commission concluded that handshaking at schools was not necessary as there were other ways of greeting men.

Fatima Amghar refused to shake hands with men because she said Islam forbids physical contact with men above the age of 12.
A similar incident hit the headlines recently when an imam refused to shake hands with Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk at a public event.
It is prohibited in Islam for males or females to shake hands if there is fear of provoking sexual desire or if there is fear of temptation.
There is an exception in shaking hands with the elderly or children concerning whom there is no fear of desire.

The Muslim minority in the Netherlands, estimated at some one million or 6 percent of the population, has been the subject of racist attacks since the 2004 murder of director Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-Moroccan after he made a film accusing Islam of condoning violence against women.
Europe’s main rights and democracy watchdog, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), expressed concern in May of last year at the increasing Dutch intolerance towards Muslims and the "climate of fear" under which the minority was living.