Switzerland is sending a strong message to any foreign Muslims seeking asylum in their country: “assimilate or get out.” The Swiss government recently denied two Muslim girls passports because they refused to take part in mixed swimming lessons at their school. The girls stated that they would not participate in the same activities as the boys in their class based on “religious grounds.”
The two girls, aged 12 and 14, were informed late last year that their applications for citizenship have been denied due to their refusal to engage in the physical education requirement. The decision to deny their citizenship was made public earlier this week.
Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalization committee that determines whether or not an applicant will be granted citizenship, states that the girl’s applications were denied for their failure to meet the requirements of the Swiss education system.
The swimming lessons are a mandatory part of the Swiss education system and failure to successfully integrate into the Swiss education system results in an automatic rejection of a child’s application. Wehrle commented on his decision to deny the girls Swiss citizenship:
‘Whoever doesn’t fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalized’
Swiss courts say integration comes before religion. The Federal Court in Basel, Switzerland upheld the passport veto. It appears that the courts are standing firm in their ruling and refuse to make exceptions.
Two other Muslim boys in the country have refused to shake the hands of their female teachers on religious grounds. According to the boys Islam prohibits any physical contact with members of the opposite sex that are outside your immediate family.
New legislation was passed in the wake of the controversy caused by the boys. Parents of students who refuse to shake a teacher’s hand in certain Swiss school districts could now face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs or $5125.05 USD.
The boys are still waiting to hear if their passport applications have been successful.