Teachers at a school in Germany have stormed out of a graduation ceremony after a Muslim student refused to shake hands with the female principal.
The student at the Kurt-Tucholsky School in Hamburg, whose name has not been disclosed, was initially approached by his class mistress at an end-of-year graduation ceremony for A students. She offered to shake his hand to congratulate him on successfully passing exams, but he refused, the Hamburg Morning Post reports, and offered his covered wrist instead.In a private conversation, which he requested, the boy explained to the teacher that he meant no insult, but could not do otherwise due to religious restrictions. Some extreme forms of Islam forbid shaking hands with people of the opposite sex, regardless of their faith. Non-essential physical contact with strange people in Islam is limited as a sign of modesty and chastity.
The situation became more serious, however, when after this first handshake misunderstanding, the same student refused to shake hands with the school’s principal, who is also a woman. School staff members witnessed the incident and were offended by it.
Five teachers called on the principal, Andrea Lüdtke, to order the boy to leave the event. After Lüdtke refused, they decided to boycott the rest of the ceremony. Local media report that the rest of the evening was marred by “intense discussions” about the incident, with both teachers and students confused by the boy’s behavior.