A school’s decision to allow two Muslim pupils not to shake their teachers’ hand has added fresh fuel to an ongoing debate in Switzerland about the integration of immigrants.When the 14 and 15-year-old brothers refused to shake a female teachers’ hand last November, citing their religious beliefs, the school in Therwil near Basel replaced the customary greeting with a verbal one from the boys to both male and female teachers.\nThe compromise solved the issue at the school, but when the public broadcaster SRF reported on it last week, it tapped into a groundswell of concern about immigration that is being felt all over Europe.\nThe Egerkinger Committee, a lobby group that succeeded through a referendum in 2009 in banning minarets, and wants to do the same for Muslim face veils, has called for immigrants shunning Swiss customs to be shown the door.\n“Those refusing integration should not have their residence permits renewed,” the committee wrote.\nJustice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told SRF, the schoolboys’ action was not how she imagined integration.\n\nWe cannot accept this, even in the name of religious freedom. The handshake is part of our culture.\n\nSimonetta SommarugaSommaruga, who has championed migrants’ rights and pushed through legislation to handle asylum requests better, stands with other liberals who say women’s rights are at stake along with Swiss customs.Muslim community representatives have so far taken a conciliatory line.Montassar Benmrad, President of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland, cited the Islamic principle of respecting others and avoiding unnecessary embarrassment.\n\nIt’s important that the Muslim students concerned show respect towards the teachers that educate them year-round. From experience, it’s more efficient and productive to solve such issues through constructive dialogue rather than in confrontation.Montassar Benmrad Some rights groups also note that an increasing number of Israeli El Al flights have been delayed by ultra-orthodox Jewish male passengers asking not to have women seated next to them – an issue that has led one female 81-year-old Holocaust survivor to sue the airline for discrimination after being asked to move to another seat.Benmrad warned against responding too hastily to cultural differences. We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.