In Switzerland, the humble handshake between a teacher and children at the beginning and end of the day — a tradition throughout much of the country — has become an unlikely battleground in a public debate about religious freedom and sexual equality. Now, one Swiss canton has added a financial element to the controversy, warning families of children who refuse to shake hands with their teachers that they would face a fine of up to $5,000.
In April, two students at a school in the town of Therwil, near Basel, had requested an exemption from shaking a teacher's hand. The two teenagers, brothers from a Syrian family, had suggested that shaking a woman's hand went against Islamic teachings. In a compromise, the local school district rule...
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