Muslim Woman Wins Religious Discrimination Case Against School

March 29, 2006

Source: Morocco Times

On March 29, 2006 the Morocco Times reported, "A Muslim woman who refuses to shake men's hands for religious reasons cannot be barred from a Dutch teacher-training programme, said the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission. The commission found Monday that the Regional Education Centre in the city of Utrecht illegally 'discriminated, indirectly, on the basis of religion,' when it rejected Fatima Amghar for its programme, reported the Associated Press. Amghar, 20, said her religious beliefs forbid her from having physical contact with men over the age of 12. The school rejected her application, arguing that shaking hands was routine for a teaching assistant in Dutch society. But 'there are other conceivable manners of greeting that can be considered proper and respectful,' the commission ruled. It warned that Dutch schools risk excluding Muslim women from society unless they find a way to accommodate their beliefs. Amghar's case is the latest in a series of decisions on the behaviour of Muslims in the Netherlands. The same commission ruled last year against an Islamic school that refused to accept a Muslim woman for a teaching position because she refused to wear a headscarf. In 2004, another Muslim woman won her case when she complained that she was barred from entering a restaurant in The Hague for wearing a headscarf."