How Switzerland deals with gender segregation demands

USA Today report:

In the latest move to deny citizenship to those who balk at Swiss culture, authorities rejected the naturalization application of two Muslim girls who refused to take school swimming lessons because boys were present.

The girls, ages 12 and 14, who live in the northern city of Basel, had applied for Swiss citizenship several months ago, but their request was denied, Swiss media reported Tuesday.

The girls, whose names were not disclosed, said their religion prevents them from participating in compulsory swimming lessons with males in the pool at the same time. Their naturalization application was rejected because the sisters did not comply with the school curriculum, Basel authorities said.

“Whoever doesn’t fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalized,” Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalization committee, told TV station SRF on Tuesday.

The case shows how those who don’t follow Swiss rules and customs won’t become citizens, even if they have lived in the country for a long time, are fluent in one of the national languages — German, French or Italian — and are gainfully employed.

More countries should do this. If people are unwilling to integrate (not assimilate) then why have them? If you don’t want to have your country with gender segregation, then why let people in who do believe in gender segregation?

Another recent case sparked widespread outrage in when two Muslim brothers refused to shake hands with their female teacher, also citing religious restrictions. Shaking hands with a teacher is a common practice in Swiss schools.

After that incident was widely publicized, authorities suspended the naturalization request from the boys’ father, an imam at the Basel mosque.

There are many many countries one can live in where there is gender segregation.  You think your beliefs means it is wrong to shake hands with a woman – fine – go live somewhere where that is the norm, rather than try and change another country’s culture.

In Switzerland, unlike in the United States and many other countries, integration into society is more important for naturalization than knowledge of national history or politics. Candidates for citizenship must prove that they are well assimilated in their communities and respect local customs and traditions.

What a good idea.

In Switzerland, local town or village councils make initial decisions on naturalization applications. If they decide a candidate is not an upstanding member of the community, the application will be denied and not forwarded to canton (state) and federal authorities for further processing.

That’s what happened in 2014 to Irving Dunn, an American who has lived in Switzerland for nearly 40 years. He was denied Swiss citizenship because he could not name any of his Swiss friends or neighboring villages, authorities said.

“The applicant’s answers have shown that his motive for naturalization is not about integration but about the personal advantages it offers,” the naturalization commission ruled.

I like the idea of delegating the decision to local communities.


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