Muslim Woman Wins Case vs. Dutch School

AP, March 27, 2006

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands—A Muslim woman who refuses to shake men’s hands for religious reasons cannot be barred from a Dutch teacher-training program.

The Dutch Equal Treatment Commission found Monday that the Regional Education Center in the city of Utrecht illegally “discriminated, indirectly, on the basis of religion,” when it rejected Fatima Amghar for its program.

Amghar, 20, said her religious beliefs forbid her from having physical contact with men over the age of 12.

The school rejected her application, arguing that shaking hands was routine for a teaching assistant in Dutch society.

But “there are other conceivable manners of greeting that can be considered proper and respectful,” the commission ruled.

It warned that Dutch schools risk excluding Muslim women from society unless they find a way to accommodate their beliefs.

Amghar’s case is the latest in a series of decisions on the behavior ofo Muslims in the Netherlands.

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