By Western standards it may be impolite to refuse shaking hands with another person. And if that refusal is justified with religious reasons, then many of us may think that there is something wrong with the religion that makes such commandments.
On the other hand, the question who should shake hands with whom, and under which circumstances, is determined by cultural norms, and in a society that takes pride in its “tolerance”, “diversity”, and “multi-culturalism” we should be able to cope with such cultural differences.
But apparently we aren’t.
In Switzerland the regional education board of the canton of Basle have ruled that “religious belief is no excuse for refusing to shake a teacher’s hand”, reversing a school’s decision to grant exemptions for Muslim pupils who say their religion forbids them to touch a person of the opposite sex.
But how is it the State’s business to tell someone that he must shake hands with someone else??? Is that not a decision that everyone ought to be free to make for himself?
Clearly, the world is on the brink of going mad. There may be good reasons to question whether Islam should be accepted as a religion of equal standing in a society that owes its moral and cultural heritage to Christianity. But by getting caught up over petty issues such as handshakes and Islamic veils our “enlightened” democracies just put their own totalitarian mindset on display. A frightening sight.