Integration Minister Also Accepts Refusal to Shake Hands
THE HAGUE, 14/03/08 - Integration Minister Ella Vogelaar does not see it as her job to interfere in Amsterdam, where Islamic public officials are permitted to refuse to shake hands with women.
Amsterdam's Labour (PvdA) Mayor Job Cohen permits 'street coaches' to refuse to shake hands with women on the basis of their religion. "Cohen is free to make his own decisions"," Vogelaar (PvdA) wrote yesterday in a letter to parliament.
Street coaches are (Islamic) citizens who assist the police in combating nuisance by (Islamic) youths. Cohen and Achmed Marcouch, the leader of Slotervaart district council, recently stated that street coaches in Slotervaart, even though they are public servants, do not have to shake hands with women. This ran into opposition from PvdA leader Wouter Bos, but he has meanwhile withdrawn his opposition.
"Shaking hands is the norm. Period," Bos said recently. But this week, he found that there could be "exceptions" after all. Vogelaar, too, considers that public servants "must due to their position be prepared to shake hands with everyone" because this is the social custom in the Netherlands, but that exceptions are no problem.
1) Integration Minister Also Accepts Refusal to Shake Hands