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Muslim Woman Awarded £3,000 After Job Rejection For Refusing To Shake Man's Hand

Muslim Woman Awarded £3,000 After Job Rejection For Refusing To Shake Man's Hand

A Muslim woman in Sweden has been awarded £3,000 in compensation after she was discriminated against for her religious beliefs.

Farah Alhajeh, 24, was interviewing for a job as an interpreter at a language services company in the city of Uppsala, just north of Stockholm.

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Credit: Farah Alhajeh
Credit: Farah Alhajeh

When she arrived, the person conducting the interview introduced Farah to her potential male boss.

However, instead of shaking the man's hand, Farah greeted him by placing her hand over her heart and explained that she avoided physical contact with others because she was Muslim.

In Islam, many chose to avoid physical contact with members of the opposite sex, except for those in their immediate family.

However, after not shaking the boss man's hand, suddenly the interview was stopped and Farah was shown to the elevator.

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Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

Speaking to SBS News, Farah said: "I was really shocked. I just started crying for hours.

"I had been a practicing Muslim for a year-and-a-half, so I hadn't been practicing my religion for that long, so this was a shock to me."

The incident prompted the Swedish Discrimination Ombudsman to take the case to court.

The language services company argued its case, explaining that its staff are required to treat men and women equally and therefore it could not allow a member to refuse a handshake based on gender, according to anti-discrimination legislation and public bodies.

However, the court found that although the company was right to demand equal treatment for both sexes, it was not right to demand this equality in the form of a handshake only.

But Farah argued that in situations where men and women are present, greeting both sexes in the same manner is the right thing to do in order to adhere to the teachings of Islam.

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

In a ruling on Wednesday 15th August, the Swedish labour court agreed that the company had discriminated against Farah and ordered it to pay 40,000 kronor (around £3,000, $4,350) in compensation.

Speaking to the BBC after the court hearing, Farrah said: "In my country, you cannot treat women and men differently. I respect that.

"That's why I don't have any physical contact with men or with women. I can live by the rules of my religion and also at the same time follow the rules of the country I live in."

Farrah now hopes that people of every minority group will find the courage to fight for their beliefs.

"I wanted justice and that's what I got. You should always fight for what you believe in. As long as you are not hurting anyone else you should fight for it."

Topics: Sweden, muslim

Megan Walsh

Megan is a freelance journalist and sub-editor with a BAHons degree in Journalism and Communications. Since graduating from London Metropolitan University, she has worked as a sub-editor and writer for Candis Magazine and later contributed to publications such as The Skinny, Creative Tourist and Huffington Post, among others.

 

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