A Muslim doctor has been denied German citizenship after refusing to shake a woman’s hand when she gave him his certificate.
The Lebanese national was on the brink of becoming a German after living in the country for 13 years, completing his medical studies and passing a citizenship test with the highest possible mark.
But he failed at the final hurdle after refusing to shake the hand of the female official at the ceremony in 2015, leading state authorities to deny him citizenship.
Five years later, a court has backed their 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 – promising her that he would never take the hand of another woman.
He started his application for citizenship in 2012 and signed the necessary paperwork vowing to uphold the constitution and reject extremism.
But the court in Mannheim said the handshake incident was incompatible with the constitution’s guarantee of equality between men and women.
“If the applicant refuses to shake hands for gender-specific reasons which are incompatible with the constitution, there is no integration into German living conditions,” they said.
“This applies in particular if the refusal to shake hands with the opposite sex – as in this case – serves to further a Salafist conviction about the relationship 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 man’s refusal to shake hands with the official came from a belief that women posed a ‘threat of sexual temptation’, the court said.