When two Syrian immigrant brothers refused to shake their female teacher’s hand this year, it ignited national outrage in Switzerland.This week, the authorities in the northern canton of Basel-Landschaft ruled that the students, who studied at a public school in the small town of Therwil, could not refuse to shake their teacher’s hand on religious grounds. They said that parents whose children refused to obey the longstanding tradition could be fined up to 5,000 Swiss francs, about $5,050.
“The countries neighboring Syria—Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan—have been extremely generous to the refugees,” says Michel Gabaudan, president of Refugees International. “But they’re bursting at the seams now, and that’s why we see people moving out. I think perhaps where we have failed is not to give sufficient support to these countries so that the host communities would feel the world was sharing the burden, and that’s a feeling that they don’t have.” More →