If only he’d waited just 1 more minute

A German court has ruled that a Muslim doctor should not be granted citizenship after he refused to shake hands with the woman presenting him with his naturalisation certificate.
According to the administrative court of Baden-Württemberg, the Lebanese man had forgone his right to become German because his refusal to shake the bureaucrat’s hand was evidence that he saw her as “posing the threat of sexual seduction.”
The judges explained that obtaining German citizenship was dependent on the applicant being able to demonstrate that he lived according to the values set out in the German constitution, which enshrines sexual equality.
A handshake “has a long tradition of signalling greeting or saying farewell that exists irrespective of social status or sex,” the ruling stated. “Although there are other recognised greetings in Germany, such as kissing or a ‘high five,’ the handshake holds a special importance” because of its formal use in the completion of a business transaction and as a signal of agreement in certain courts, the judges added.
The incident occurred in 2015 at a citizenship ceremony that was supposed to be a simple formality after the man had obtained the highest possible score in his citizenship test, an exam that probes how well immigrants understand German history and its democratic values.
When the female bureaucrat offered her hand and he declined to shake it, she refused to hand over his certificate. The 40-year-old has an otherwise impeccable record of successful integration. He moved to the country as a language student in 2002 before qualifying as a doctor and then working his way up to the position of consultant physician at a hospital in southern Germany.
To support his case, he said that he had made a promise to his wife never to touch another woman. But the court remained unswayed, describing his actions as “fundamentalist” and reflective of “a Salafist worldview.”

Wouldn’t that be fun if we did it? You only get to be a citizen if you agree with our ancient cultural worldview? Perhaps those who regard teenage girls in care as being part of a girlfriend farm might not gain their citizenship. Or those who might saw the head off a military bandsman.

Sadly, given who would end up writing such a list of no nos we’d end up with the latest demands of the Woken SS enforced. Only those who believe that people with cervixes and women are not exact cognates may enter perhaps?

19 thoughts on “If only he’d waited just 1 more minute”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    A handshake “has a long tradition of signalling greeting or saying farewell that exists irrespective of social status or sex,” the ruling stated. “Although there are other recognised greetings in Germany, such as kissing or a ‘high five,’ the handshake holds a special importance” because of its formal use in the completion of a business transaction and as a signal of agreement in certain courts, the judges added.

    Its quite surprising to see how much hand shaking goes on in with Germans when you first go there. Even here our German friends would shake hands when meeting and leaving, even if we saw them twice in the same day.

    Another custom I liked was usually at the stammtisch(regulars/locals table), where they would tap the table on arrival or leaving rather than stop the flow of conversations.

    Anyway, to the case in point: You take the boy out of the Middle East, but you can’t take the Middle East out of the boy.

  2. Or presumably if he’d waited another 5yrs then handshaking would be a social no-no for everyone anyway. Unless his promise to his wife would also rule out an elbow-bump…

  3. Interestingly if he had instead been a Buddhist monk (with the notable exception of the Dalai Lama) his religion would have prohibited him from taking that handshake too. I wonder what the court would have decided in that case.

  4. If she had been a native Yiddish speaker, then millions of Krauts may well have endorsed his position!

    OK, so he wouldn’t touch another woman, but given where he comes from, it’s no holds barred with a child (probably).

    How many Buddhist Monks want to become German citizens (now that you can’t openly display swastikas).

  5. I think the ability to draw Mo should apply to anyone who wishes to enter a country let alone settle in it. Face it Covid has made handshakes terribly 2019.

  6. But the court remained unswayed, describing his actions as “fundamentalist” and reflective of “a Salafist worldview.”

    This bit is actually wrong. It’d be a bit like saying “opposition to abortion isn’t common in mainstream Christianity, so if you see a supposed Christian oppose abortion it’s a sign they belong to or hold the mindset of the Westboro Baptist Church or other extremist group.” Yes the Westboro Baptist Church is opposed to abortion but the other way round does not follow. A female friend of mine is head of a government agency in Malaysia. That area largely follows a relatively liberal/tolerant version of Islam (Aceh is interesting for how exceptional it is) and she’s Western-educated, so she’s on the opposite end of the scale to the Salafists. She won’t shake hands though – actually prefers not to shake hands with women either, not from any injunction against it, but just that it causes confusion for any men in a delegation as to what they are expected to do. She and her female colleagues just prefer to run with traditional – and non-contact – Asian greetings.

    Her current theory is that the world might/should reach an equilibrium with some mutually acceptable greeting like a raised palm (coincidentally the same greeting a female Sudanese medical official I knew had settled on – but if I recall correctly, though this has worked for her in most of her international dealings, and is less theatrical than some form of bow or wai, it might still be construed as offensive in cultures where showing your palm to someone is an insult). Arguably, the fact she rejects the handshake as “Western” and culturally inappropriate for her homeland in a sense vindicates the decision of the German court to view accepting a handshake as accepting a Western identity.

    Aside from Muslims and Buddhist monks, another interesting group (given that Germany has been trying to encourage their return in recent years) is Orthodox Jews. Orthodox women I was on good terms with would not shake my hand. During nights out with friends, they felt compelled to wave away attempted hugs from inebriated men.

    Handshakes are an interesting cultural marker. How long has it actually been normalised that anyone can/should shake hands with anyone else? I don’t think if you went back 500 or 300 years ago you’d find men shaking hands with women. Even 150? When did the upper class start shaking hands with the lower class?

  7. I always understood that shaking hands was to make it impractical to stab someone as you met or left them. From back in the days when knights were bold.

    Though I suppose if you were left handed, you could grab the bloke’s right hand to stop him retaliating and slip the dagger in with the left.

  8. @boganboy

    Indeed that’s the traditional explanation but that also seems to place the origins of the handshake within a very particular social milieu does it not? Makes sense for a (very much male) member of the equestrian class to shake hands with another. But would one have deigned to shake hands with a serf? Or a woman? I have the feeling the lower-class were expected to kiss the hands of the upper-class until well after the medieval period, but my brain may well have been corrupted by inaccurate cultural depictions.

    I’m also sure I remember reading, decades ago, some (retrospective – this referred to their early careers) complaints from early female boardroom pioneers that they’d had to wage something of a cultural war to be greeted with a handshake, which they took as signifying their acceptance as just another businessperson, rather than kiss-on-the-cheeks style greetings they found rather belittling.

    But can’t remember the dates being talked about. Or indeed which side of the Atlantic / Channel this was.

  9. “How long has it actually been normalised that anyone can/should shake hands with anyone else?”

    It’s said that Geo. Washington didn’t shake hands; he bowed. It’s what you see in Jane Austen stories on the telly too.

    Fussing about shaking hands seems irredeemably furrin to me: Continentals, Yanks – and, to be fair, second-hand car salesmen.

  10. Regarding Buddhist monks, Theravadans are normally the strictest, with Mahayana sects allowing different degrees of contact, and some Zen monks even marrying. But even the patimokkha rules for Theravadan monks don’t completely forbid touching women. The rule specifies that if a monk touches a woman with lustful intent, then a serious rule is broken which requires a meeting of his fellow monks. Most monks don’t want to risk it, or they want to be seen to be above reproach, so they refrain from things like shaking hands. As with most Theravadan proscriptions, intent is everything.

  11. Though I suppose if you were left handed, you could grab the bloke’s right hand to stop him retaliating and slip the dagger in with the left.

    Probably why people are wary of lefties.
    The Romans had it correct. Lefties are all sinister.

  12. So Much For Subtlety

    I object to all Muslim immigration on principle but I am not sure I object to this. A reasonable number of British people do avoid touching any unrelated female. Including the community from which I have sprung.

    Not sure I would have been happy about them being stripped of their citizenship as a result.

    I am not sure where Mike Pence stands on handshaking but he is famous for refusing to eat alone with an unrelated woman. A rule that is common among his sort of Christian. Why not? The modern world is making it look more and more sensible. He is no less an American for all that.

    I don’t even think it would be fair to fire a man because he does not want to go for drinks with an aggressively feminist underling.

    As far as I am concerned, rules on modesty are fine. It is the hatred of the rest of us and assorted head cutting that is the problem.

  13. “Mike Pence … is famous for refusing to eat alone with an unrelated woman.”

    The reason he does this is to protect himself from bogus charges of improper sexual behavior.

  14. @ZT

    That’s certainly a useful side-effect of his behaviour but I think even if didn’t provide such protection, or such protection was no longer required, he seems likely to continue in the same pattern. My understanding is Pence regards it as part of a moral and emotional commitment to his wife.

  15. “Mike Pence … is famous for refusing to eat alone with an unrelated woman.”

    Entirely sensible bloke. Why get stuffed with the the billwhaen you’re not looking for any action?

  16. The Germans “caught” this guy. While the thousands they didn’t catch have identical beliefs. The overt expression of the beliefs are the problem; not the beliefs.

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