Citizenship put on hold for ‘no-handshake’ Muslim boys – SWI

Another example of an accommodation issue (in this case, I would side with the authorities):

The family of the two teenagers, who refused to shake their female teachers’ hands for religious reasons, have had their application for citizenship suspended. Shaking hands with the teacher before and after class is often standard practice in Switzerland.

A spokesperson for the local security authorities said that the office for migration in canton Basel Country would be speaking to family members individually, and that it was not unusual for an application to be suspended while additional information was gathered.

The spokesperson said that the interview would be open-ended, and that the family’s immigration status would only be decided based upon their answers to the questions posed during the interview process. After this it would be decided how the application process should proceed. Precise appointment dates are not known.

The 14- and 16-year old brothers are Muslim, and do not want to touch women in general, for religious reasons. The younger of the two said in a newspaper interview that he had discovered this rule in an internet sermon.

The head teacher of the school attended by the two boys arranged that they would not shake hands with any of the teachers. However, this led to a public outcry as news spread in the Swiss press, and justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga publicly criticised the decision, arguing that the handshakes are part of Swiss culture.


The decision to suspend the application process for citizenship and summon all family members for individual interviews was said to have been taken last week. It is not known how many of the children are applying to become Swiss, along with their parents.

The cantonal education authorities have meanwhile ordered a legal opinion on how and if etiquette can be enforced. Several motions have been filed in the local parliament that focus on banning special arrangements made for religious reasons.

Source: Citizenship put on hold for ‘no-handshake’ Muslim boys – SWI

Sex ed protest leaves 1 Toronto school almost empty

If memory serves me correctly (School prayer debate creates unlikely allies), this is the same school that allowed the Muslim Friday prayers at the school to combat Friday afternoon absenteeism among Muslim students, with gender-separate seating (girls at the back, not at the side):

A public elementary school in Toronto was left nearly empty on Monday as parents protested against the province’s new sex ed curriculum.

Between 200 and 300 protesters voiced their concerns with changes to the current sex ed system outside Thorncliffe Park Public School, said the CBC’s James Murray. Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird said 1,220 of the 1,350 Grade 1 to Grade 5 students are not currently in class.

Meanwhile, across the city, the Toronto District School Board recorded 34,762 elementary school absences.

That’s an increase of 144 percent compared to last Monday when there were 14,191 absences reported.

The board did not provide a breakdown of reasons for the absences, such as illness, etc.

In total, there are approximately 171,800 active elementary students at the TDSB.

A Thorncliffe parents’ group is currently running a Facebook campaign called Parents & Students on strike: one week no school is encouraging parents who oppose the 2015 sex ed curriculum to keep their kids at home.

“We are sending them to have their science, math and English and whatever … we are not sending them for sex education,” said parent Fatima Haqdad.

Sex ed protest leaves 1 Toronto school almost empty – Toronto – CBC News.

ICYMI: In Britain, School Report Cites Division Over Islam

I think the issue is not that this ‘turns’ students to or from terrorism, but the overall message it sends to students about acceptable behaviour in a multicultural and diverse society, based upon equality (see also UK: Michael Gove (Education Sec’y) accused of using ‘Trojan Horse’ row to push anti-Islam agenda):

British education inspectors investigated 21 schools after claims that Islamic fundamentalists had taken over leadership of schools in Birmingham, home to a significant Muslim population.

The inquiry found that the influence of hard-line school board governors sometimes left staffs polarized between those who favored a more Islamic approach and others who did not. In British state schools many governors are elected by parents or staff members.

Some teachers, for example, “actively discourage girls from speaking to boys,” the report said, adding that in one school “boys and girls are also taught separately in religious education and personal development lessons.”

At one school, Oldknow Academy, “governors have used the academy’s budget to subsidize a trip to Saudi Arabia for only Muslim staff and pupils,” the document said.

Among the striking details to emerge from the report was that a senior figure in one school was so scared of being seen talking to school inspectors that a meeting had to be arranged in a supermarket parking lot. Another school hired private investigators to check staff email, the report said.

Ofsted’s chief, Michael Wilshaw, described some of the findings as “deeply worrying and, in some ways, quite shocking.”

But the findings were criticized by the Muslim Council of Britain, which says it has more than 500 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools. It argued that “extremism will not be confronted if Muslims, and their religious practices are considered as, at best, contrary to the values of this country and at worst, seen as ‘the swamp’ that feeds extremism.”

“There is scant evidence that the education system or the Muslim community are the reasons for why people turn to terrorism,” it added in a statement.

In Britain, School Report Cites Division Over Islam –