World

GENEVA: Two Muslim girls have rejected Swiss citizenship after local authorities ruled that it was compulsory for them to take swimming lessons at school, in which boys would also participate.

According to reports, the girls, aged 12 and 14, refused to take the compulsory lessons claiming their faith forbade them from swimming with unrelated males.

The Basel residents had applied for Swiss citizenship a few months ago but their application was rejected because they “did not comply with the school curriculum,” local authorities were quoted as saying.

“Whoever doesn’t fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalised,” Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalization committee told TV station SRF, according to USA Today.

In recent times, the integration of Muslims in the secular European country has become a pressing issue, with many Muslim immigrants taking a stand against certain traditions they find to be against their faith.

Earlier in 2012, a family was fined $1,500 for forbidding their daughters to participate in swimming classes.

And in April this year, the Swiss authorities put a halt to the naturalization process of two Muslim brothers, aged 14 and 15, who refused to shake hands with their female teacher.

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The boys were initially exempted from the Swiss custom of pupils shaking their teachers’ hands, after officials instructed them to avoid contact with male teachers as well to avoid gender discrimination. However, Swiss authorities later reversed the school’s decision.

“A teacher has the right to demand a handshake,” said a statement released by the authorities.

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