What is the place of Muslims in French society especially when it comes to handling gender issues?
Many people are asking this question after an Algerian woman was denied French citizenship for refusing to shake a senior official’s hand.
The woman, who is yet to be identified, said her religious beliefs prevented her from shaking the hand of the male official in the citizenship ceremony.
Consequently, the French government ruled that she was not “assimilated into the French community” even though she was married to a French man, and denied her citizenship.
She appealed, but France’s highest administrative court upheld the ruling on April 11, saying that the woman’s refusal “in a place and at a moment that are symbolic, reveals a lack of assimilation,” The New York Times reports.
The woman married a French citizen in Algeria in 2010 and filed for French citizenship five years later.
At her naturalization ceremony in 2016 in Grenoble, in southeastern France, she refused to shake the hands of a local state official and of a local elected official, both male, saying that her Islamic faith prevents her from shaking hands with a male who is not related to her.
The court’s ruling comes on the back of a law that gives authorities the reason to deny citizenship for someone who is “not assimilated” or integrated into French society.