A Muslim doctor has been denied German citizenship after refusing to shake a woman’s hand when she gave him his certificate.
The 39-year-old Lebanese national was due to become a German citizen having lived in the country for 13 years, completing his medical studies and passing a citizenship test with the highest possible mark.
But when he was to be presented his citizenship certificate, he refused to shake the hand of the female official at the ceremony in 2015, leading state authorities to deny him citizenship – a decision he challenged in court.
Five years later, a court has backed that decision – saying the man’s ‘fundamentalist’ views were at odds with his integration into German society.
The man had moved to Germany in 2002 and lived there legally ever since, marrying a woman of Syrian origin about 10 years ago.
He started his application for citizenship in 2012 and signed the necessary paperwork vowing to uphold the constitution and reject extremism.
The court in Mannheim said the handshake incident was incompatible with the constitution’s guarantee of equality between men and women.
Germany has long held concerns about the fundamentalist Salafists, who make up only a tiny proportion of the country’s Muslim population.
The court said that handshakes had deep roots in Western culture, including as a symbol of reaching agreement.
‘Handshakes are common greeting and farewell rituals that take place regardless of the social status, gender or other personal characteristics of the people involved and go back centuries,’ the judges said.
The man has a right to appeal the decision in a federal court.