GENEVA- A Swiss high school’s decision to accept two Muslim boys’ refusal for religious reasons to shake hands with their female teachers has triggered a debate in the small Alpine country, where handshake greetings have long been a gender-neutral tradition. The public school in the northern town of Therwil, near Basel, recently accepted the teens’ belief that they should only willingly touch
the women they eventually marry. Regional spokeswoman Deborah Murith said Wednesday that the school’s decision centered on the balance between constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and gender equality. She said the school had ruled that if the boys won’t shake hands with female teachers they should also be banned from shaking hands with male teachers.