An Arab woman has been denied French citizenship after refusing to shake the hand of a senior official during a naturalization ceremony.
The decision was upheld this week by a French appeals court, which argued that the woman’s refusal demonstrated that she “had not assimilated into the French community,” the BBC reported.
The Algerian woman, who has been married to a French man since 2010, said that her “religious beliefs” prevent her from shaking the hands of unrelated men. In conservative Islamic teachings, unrelated men and women are often prohibited from shaking hands.
Back in 2016, the woman attended her citizenship ceremony in the south-eastern Isère region of France. Although she met the requirements for citizenship, her refusal to shake hands with the male official was seen as a failure to successfully assimilate into French society.
Her application was then denied by presiding officials. According to the French law regarding naturalization, the government has the right to deny citizenship by judging how well adjusted an individual is to France’s culture.
Now, the the Council of State, which is the last court of appeals in such matters, has agreed that the decision was valid. The court’s ruling said that the government “had not improperly applied” the law, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Algerians have a thorny past with France. The North African country is a former French colony, and only became independent in 1962. Algerians fought a long and bloody war to remove the French colonizers and gain self-determination.
Current French President Emmanuel Macron admitted that his nation’s actions during the Algerian war for independence amount to “crimes against humanity.” However, France has not officially apologized for it’s treatment of the North African country and its people.
France has often been seen as intolerant of conservative Muslim traditions. The country banned students from wearing any religious symbols in public schools back in 2004. The niqab was later banned from being worn in public places in 2011.
Several French municipalities also attempted to ban the burkini at public beaches in their jurisdiction back in 2016. However, these burkini bans were overturned in court as a violation of an individual’s fundamental freedoms.