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To Obtain Danish Citizenship, Applicant Must Be Ready To Exchange Handshakes – Lawmakers

Effective from January 1, 2019, Denmark will require anyone who takes Danish citizenship to shake hands at the naturalization ceremony.

Lawmakers say the law, passed on Thursday (today), is aimed at Muslims who refuse on religious grounds to touch members of the opposite sex, NYT reports.

The law has prompted strong reactions from some of the mayors who must conduct such ceremonies, and who are upset that they will become the faces and fists of a policy they call awkward, “purely symbolic” and irrelevant to an applicant’s qualifications.

They say the Danish Parliament, which approved the measure, has artificially elevated a social custom to a national value.

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But Denmark is not alone. Authorities in Switzerland and France have recently cited “lack of assimilation” in rejection of citizenship to foreigners who refuse to shake hands with officials.

“If you arrive in Denmark, where it’s custom to shake hands when you greet if you don’t do it, it’s disrespectful,” said Martin Henriksen, a lawmaker who has been critical of Islam and is the right-wing Danish People’s Party’s spokesman on immigration.

“If one can’t do something that simple and straightforward, there’s no reason to become a Danish citizen,” Henriksen contends.

He said the law, which will take effect on January 1, was required because of “Muslim immigration to Denmark over a long time,” and added that he hoped it would be followed by a ban on Muslim women wearing veils at citizenship ceremonies.

The country’s integration minister, Inger Stojberg, wrote on her Facebook page that a handshake was a “visible sign that you’ve taken Denmark to heart.”

Some Muslim and Jewish groups prohibit or discourage their faithful from touching members of the opposite sex outside their immediate families.

The handshake requirement, which includes a provision that the wearing of gloves is unacceptable, is the latest in a series of Danish anti-immigrant measures that critics say are symbolically charged but serve little purpose.

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Written by PH

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