The handshake

21 08 2008

A muslim man has been denied a job by the Rotterdam council because he refused to shake hands with women.

The government-job he was refused for is one where he would be in contact with clients, and would hold a position where he holds a position of trust. He arrived at his interview in traditional dress (I suppose a thobe-like garment) and immediately refused to shake the hand of a female interviewer.

In the first instance the ”commission for equal treatment” put the muslim gentleman in the right, because ”Equal treatment” means you can’t refuse a person a job on religious grounds.
The court has now ruled that the council of Rotterdam is in the right to refuse the man this job because he himself doesn’t treat people equally: He does shake hands with men, but doesn’t shake hands with women.

Good! I am glad!

About time too! Wake up people! Refusing to shake hands with women is seen as discriminatory against women in the Netherlands! Shaking hands in Europe isn’t a quick sexy fumble! A handshake is deeply ingrained in our culture (yes, we have culture too!) as a clear sign of trust and honesty!!! And to refuse one segment of society your hand is mind-boggingly total discrimination!!!!!

More than that; refusing to shake hands here in Europe is seen as a clear and distinct insult! And is used as such.

If you can’t get yourself to shake hands with members of the other sex, I don’t care. That is your prerogative. But that means there will be consequences for your preferences, your personal choices. Especially as you choose to exert these preferences in direct opposion to the customs of polite behaviour in the country you choose to live in! Amongst routinely insulting people, you will not be able to get some of the jobs you’d like.

Stop whining, get your priorities straight, and deal with it!!!

What also irritates me here is that again one nutter has publicly made clear that all muslims are bigots who consider all women unclean, and demand special preferential treatment above anybody else. Or do all my muslim-visitors agree on the non-handshaking with Fitnah women? And that this should be respected in other cultures? Even when in a representative, trust-inspiring council capacity?

I am interested what you, my friends have to say about it, and especially any bigotted blurkers are very welcome to spew some intolerant comments here.

Update: solution

Disclaimer: All blame and eventual death-fatwas inspired by this Danish Cartoon should be aimed at Saudi In US.
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84 responses

21 08 2008
AbuSinan

Would you say the same thing about an Orthodox Jew who refuses to shake hands with women? Many do. With the large Jewish community in Holland I would say that this is being targeted against Muslims because I can guarantee you this has come up with orthodox Jews before.

Being a tolerant nation means being tolerant of things you dont agree with. If you only “tolerate” things you have no issue with, you arent tolerant.

Holland lost the tolerance test this time.

21 08 2008
AbuSinan

BTW, A Muslim man who doesnt shake hands with women doesnt do so because he thinks that women are some how dirty or unclean. I have no idea where you got that from, but it isnt true.

A Muslim man, or a Jewish man, doesnt shake hands with a woman who is not related to him because he respects her right to not be touched and because he feels it isnt modest to do so.

The only intolerance I have seen here so far is from the court!

21 08 2008
Aafke

I would hold my position against anybody who sets one half of society apart. It is discrimination whichever way you look at it, and yes, especially against women, who are still not regarded as full members of society.]
While Holland officially holds to equality in all, nobody who represents our government, and thereby our country, should be encouraged to hold double standarts.
Any person who stands in a position of trust and represents government cannot have one rule for women and another for men.

Imagine a civil servant would shake hands with white people but not with black. Or shake hands with christians, but not with jews or muslims. Would that be acceptable? Few people would think so.
But when discrimination is solely targetted against women it is suddenly debatable!?!?!?!
Makes me really sick!!!!!!!!

21 08 2008
Aafke

And any man who thinks he should not shake hands with women is perfectly welcome to feel that way. But if you apply for a job where shaking hands is routine you should not get upset if your would be employers don’t consider your personal preference suitable in the excertion of your your job.

And I know the reasons might be (might be, because I also have heard men call women a contamination) quite understandable, they will still form an impediment to such a job. especially as most Dutch women will regard it as an insult. I don’t care how correct or false this might be; I do not think Dutch women should have to put up with feeling insulted because one candidate out of other suitable candidates requires it of women because of his personal, unusual, believes.

21 08 2008
Saudi in US

Ok Aafke,

I think this problem had a simple solution without bothering 2 layers of courts. Simply make all the women wear the black Sulafi gloves and he will gladly shake their hands. No touching will be involved.

By the way, I would not have hired him either…

21 08 2008
Rhysz

I’m thoroughly with Aafke on this one. NOT shaking hands IS considered an INSULT in our culture. I bet we can find lots of movies on youtube on the subject to make the point clear. The man was applying for a client manager position, a position where one clearly must have a respectfull relationship with the client. Clearly, if a woman walks in and is refused a handshake an insult is given and no trust can be easily built.

I can’t really say why some of the more orthodox muslims refuse to shake hands. I do remember something about uncleanliness, but I’d have to look it up. (Man my Koran is being used a lot lately) I suspect that the argument that a man must not ‘soil’a women is just another load of revolting spin. Also, I couldn’t care less about a specific religion if a Christian, Jew or indeed some freakish Wiccan, you don’t shake hands (or some other socially accepted, even expected, behavior, do not apply for a job with the government.

We have a secular society, so government remains neutral on religious issues, and also carries itself in a nondenominational manner. It is the ONE most important concept Western society was built on. Also it has resulted in an enormous halt in faith based violence. I can go on for hours about the importance and the virtues of the freedom from religion in any constitution.

The ‘Commission for Equality’ BAH! I had to Cover this bunch of nutbags for my bachelor paper. Basically it’s an advice commission with no formal powers whatsover, made up out of a bunch of acadamically unsound political half-extremist dhimmi’s. Aafke, if you ever want to see how men are discriminated against in The Netherlands I recommend you check out some of their ‘rulings’ on their site.

I don’t think there was any religious discrimination here. If you want to work for the government you have to accept some basic social rules. Indeed, if I had to work for or with a foreign government I’d also respect their customs, I’d have to. For instance, in SE-Asia it’s considerred an insult to show your footsoles to people, a custom which is very alien to me, but knowing this I would go out of my way not to insult people.

I just loked up the verdict, I stand soundly behind it. The judges clearly went the extra mile to explain their position.

21 08 2008
Aafke

Saudi in US,
Snort!!!
I see it in my minds eye! Just as you enter his office there would be a basket full of black right-hand gloves! With a small notice: for women visitors!
Wonder how that would go down in Holland!
Woehaha!
Thanks for making me laugh instead of being upset.
(shake hands }:))

21 08 2008
Aafke

Rhysz, as you study law I respect your comment very much, thanks for posting it.

21 08 2008
Rhysz

Imam Abu Hanifah, a Sunni, maintained that who touching women, even with lustful thought, does not invalidate wudu’. In the time it seems that the actual problem was with how the word ‘touch’should be interpretted. The main consencus of jurists of the time seemed to be that a man may not touch a woman ‘in lust’.

21 08 2008
Aafke

NO! No religious debate here!
For now! This post was purely about how reasonable is it to push your own preferences while on a government job on women when they are almost certainly going to be percieved as insulting!

21 08 2008
Rhysz

You’re the Mod, feel free to delete it sis.

21 08 2008
Colloquielle

While I agree with Rhysz & Aafke, I think it’s important to note that it would be just as unacceptable for an Orthodox Jew person to refuse to shake the hand of a woman in this situation, or for a white person to refuse to shake the hand of a black person, for the same reason.

But I don’t think that’s the issue here. If people can deal with things on a rational, individual basis, rather than picking sides, then this shouldn’t be a big deal. Clearly, when he refused to shake the hand of the interviewer, this gentleman failed to express in an acceptable fashion why he couldn’t shake her hand, or he has failed to reassure the panel that he could ensure that no other woman he would encounter in his line of work would take offence from his refusal to shake their hand. This has resulted in his not being hired, and the decision to take legal action is rather an unfortunate one. It shouldn’t be “Muslims vs secularists” or “Orthodox Jews vs blacks” or “hats vs aardvarks” or whatever – aren’t these people adults? Can’t they make their feelings and sensitivities known in a fashion that doesn’t upset others like this? Sounds like a case of sour grapes, to me.

21 08 2008
Aafke

I wouldn’t dream of deleting, but hadith and the importance thereof, and which is more important, hadith or Quran, and how much a hadith is authentic, etc. etc. etc. is a whole different subject, one I love to discuss btw. but very off topic now.

21 08 2008
Colloquielle

Saudi in the US – “Simply make all the women wear the black Sulafi gloves and he will gladly shake their hands. No touching will be involved.”

I’m not sure if you’re kidding or not!

21 08 2008
Aafke

Colloquielle; that was a very balanced comment, perhaps the best one yet (even better than mine) certainly very wise. i still think it’s not really what I’d want in the coiuncil office of a client-manager. But certainly in other jobs a reasonable point of view.
However, I’d take it from Abu Sinan for example, but I also seriously doubt wether most individuals who start off like this have the maturity and humanity you’d need to act as you described.

I think we can take it Saudi in US is kidding here. He is also very mature and friendly. And doesn’t seem very salafi.

21 08 2008
AbuSinan

I guess I am forced to be the devil’s advocate here, or in this case, God’s. Personally I do not offer my hand to a woman, but have no problem shaking her hand if it is offered.

It is a personal choice. I guess we could argue, that as Muslim men are enjoyed not to stand when urinating by the Sunnah, that if all other men stand and they are offended, the men who refuse to do so should be fired or not hired?

Shaking hands is a purely cultural issue. In and of itself, it has no real functional merit in any day to day action. Comparing it to a white refusing to shake the hand of a black man is a nonsense comparision, because unlike the Muslim man vs woman issue, the black and white issue neccesitates a feel of superiority. A Muslim man who declines to shake the hands of a woman does not do so on the basis of superiority, or uncleanliness, rather it is out of respect for her and for what he feels his religion requires him to do.

Aafke,

The same arguments you make here have been made by those in Europe who would BAN the hijab. They argue, as you do, that it sets them apart from the rest of their community, so it should be banned.

Are you in favour of banning the hijab as well? How about the Kippa? It certainly marks out Jews and seperates them from the rest of society. How about turbans for siekhs? Again, it seperates them from the rest of society.

I guess we could talk about making Muslims and Jews eat pork, because Germans, Dutch and most all Europeans LOVE pork. Not eating pork seperates Jews and Muslims from the rest of society.

Once we allow religious practice to be curtailed by those who would seek to force their standards and morals on others, then we descend a slippery slope. You all are starting to look like Saudi, just in an opposite/mirror image.

21 08 2008
Aafke

Abu Sinan,
One thing first: I like you and appreciate your comments, but I think we are discussing slightly at cross purposes here: have you read Rhysz’s post?
Or mine?

Anybody who chooses not to touch anybody else is welcome to do so, except, while in a representative government job, in which he is also expected to be trusted by the clients.
Nobody curtails this mens personal ineterpretation of his religion. And with this ruling neither do they, and neither do they curtail the Dutch women’s rights to be seen as equals to men in Dutch society. The right to equality is law in the Netherlands.
I know, for this man it is religious, but, again, the Dutch will interpret it as a sexist insult.
Shaking a woman’s hand in the Netherlands means respect, refusing to do so based on the fact that she is female is particularly insulting to Dutch women.

In his personal life that man is free to do as he pleases, it is only his apparent inability to perform his proffessional duties which are the reason for him not being suitable for the job he was applying for.

.
So, responding nót from the view of my post, but personally:
You make a valid point about handshaking on the whole (not in the instance of the job this post is all about) I am not keen on shaking hands all the time, and can very well leave it alone, but it is an acknowledged important gesture of faith, respect and honesty here in Europe. So I would never refuse either. Adn I wouldn’t dream of refusing to shake hands when it was expected in an official capacity .

I think your equasions don’t hold. From what I see in the world the majority of men who put up these distinguising rules do not really respect women. They claim they do, but look around you: they are always accompanied by a lot of detrimental rules and regulations solely for women.
Again and again one hears this stuff about ”respect” for women, and the upshot is that it means more restrictions and less rights for women. It’s fake.

My other problem is women. You are right about your points of discrimination against other religions or races, my point of contention is that when it is about women, it is suddenly a whole different subject.
It isn’t for me.
I do not want any rules bent on sex-discriminations, and I certainly don’t want them to be institutionalised by government!!!!!
For me allowing an official representative to ignore the Dutch rules of curtesy when women are involved would be the first step towards many more restrictions for women.

Arguments about hijab, pork etc, are completely besides the point of my argument.

21 08 2008
Nevis

Hear, hear! I completely agree! You’re so eloquant!

21 08 2008
AbuSinan

Aafke,

If you think that a handshake says anything about the trust one can have with someone; you have dealt with a lot of different people than I have. I have shaken hands with many people, including members of the Saudi government, who are about as trustworthy as the devil himself. A handshake is nothing more than a cultural affectation, nothing more. It is a cultural issue, and sorry to say, I dont think following all of the cultural mandates of Holland was a requirement of the job.

It would seem you are unwilling to understand that this man’s choice not to shake a woman’s hand has NOTHING to do with the equality of Dutch women. It has NOTHING to do with it. Not shaking a female’s hand is not a statement about the woman’s standing at all. You are making it into a sign of discrimination when it isnt.

You say that Dutch might take it as an insult, but I thought the sign of a truly tolerant society is the ability to understand the differences in people cultures, society and religion? If they take this as an insult, then they cannot call themselves tolerant, and I fear there is MUCH worse in store.

You say he can do what he wants in his personal life, but he cannot in his professional duties. That, honestly, is rubbish. A handshake is not part of professional duties, once again it is a CULTURAL thing. In Holland, like many places in the West, business dinners are part of the dutires and what is entailed in a job. People usually drink during these. It is actually part of the “culture”. Is the man then going to be required to drink, as it is part of what is often considered the “culture”. W are talking about cultural requirements here.

I see zero problem with the man politely refusing to shake her hand and explaning “Out of respect for you and for my faith, I do not shake hands”. That way everyone is respected. In this case the rights and religion of the man were not respected.

When you say “I do not want any rules bent on sex-discriminations, and I certainly don’t want them to be institutionalised by government!!!!!” You are again failing to understand the reasoning for the man’s refusal. It has nothing to do with sex discrimination. Maybe the court is unable to grasp this concept as it seems you are.

Arguments about hijab are NOT besides the point to the issue you are trying to make. The French banned hijab in school partially on the idea that they didnt want sex discrimination institutionalised by government, the same argument you are making here. It is not far to leap from one to the other.

You talk about “faith, respect and honesty here in Europe”, but many Europeans would say that dealing with a woman in hijab makes them feel less at ease, they think she is oppressed, not honest ect. So it isnt a stretch to say that the hijab is “institusionalised sex discrimination” then you could argue it (and it has been argued) that it isnt part of the European culture, so it should be banned.

YOUR argument in this case HAS been used by those who want to ban the hijab. It has been banned in France and teachers in some states in Germany have been banned from wearing hijab based on the same exact statements you have made here.

21 08 2008
Aafke

Damn, good points Abu, I will have to mull your comment over a bit and have to cook now…

21 08 2008
Colloquielle

“I see zero problem with the man politely refusing to shake her hand and explaning “Out of respect for you and for my faith, I do not shake hands”.”

Wouldn’t it have been, “Out of respect for you and for my faith, I do not shake hands with women“?

21 08 2008
Colloquielle

Oops, hit submit too early – a trifle premature of me!

I agree, by the way, that shaking hands is a cultural thing, not a function of his post, and if he refuses to shake hands with anyone, that’s fine. My point is simply, if he is prepared to shake hands with men, but not women, then this is not simply a cultural thing. It has a gender bias.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I like to think that he could have explained himself in such a way that no offence could have been taken. But I think that if you’re applying for a government position – in any society – you have to respect the society you’re living in. In this instance, he’s living in a secular society, and should respect that women have long also been, effectively, a “minority” in terms of social standing. If I walked into a meeting as the only female there, and a government official refused to shake my hand, I would be rattled on a personal level. I, too, have shaken the hands of people of high standing whom I do not respect, but to apply a cultural more to one section of society (e.g. men) but not to another (e.g. women) is unacceptable. Either shake everyone’s hands or nobody’s.

21 08 2008
Colloquielle

(Sorry, just to clarify – if that government official shook the hand of my male colleague I should be upset and offended. If he shook neither of our hands, I would be unperturbed.)

21 08 2008
Colloquielle

(Shaking neither of our hands makes it about him and his own choice. Shaking my male colleague’s hand but not mine makes it about me, as well. And that’s where the difference sits, for me.)

I’m going to stop adding postscripts now, I promise. Blame my boss for bringing me back a can of G&T at lunch to celebrate my last project 😉 😀

21 08 2008
Annie

I can’t help but read your post and remember the only time a man refused to shake my hand and no, he wasn’t Muslim or Jewish. I was in my 20’s, at a casual barbecue sometime in the 1970’s and I was introduced me to a new person I’d never met before. Naturally I stuck out my hand, said, “glad to meet you!” or something equally friendly and he stared at my hand, then stared at me pointedly. He did not offer his hand in return. So I blushed deeply, completely embarrassed, dropped my hand and didn’t know what to do with myself. He did say “hi” and I mumbled something in return and walked away, more than a little confused and hurt. (Remember, I was only in my 20’s and everything loomed VERY LARGE back then for me, lol)

I told an older woman I knew at the party about it later and she said she had known him for some time and of course he didn’t shake hands with women, that men like him do not believe in it.

What was a “man like him”?

Well, as I gradually found out then and later from others, he was a misogynist, racist, narrow-minded bigoted redneck. In his world, men shake hands with men and women do the laundry or something in the kitchen. Heh. Yeeeah…

NOT NOT NOT implying for a second that the Muslim gentleman referred to in this case (or anyone who is following their religious laws or customs) is misogynist or racist or anything like that, no no no. Not saying that for a second. Hey, he might be all those things and he might not be; we really don’t know anything about him except what the article said.

All I’m saying is the one time it happened to me wasn’t for moral reasons or to give me more respect but for the opposite reasons; lack of respect and wanting to humiliate me.

Personally I believe in attempting to follow the customs of the culture you are in whenever possible to avoid inadvertently insulting others in that culture. If I lived in or was visiting a culture where women cover their heads and skin, I would do that too, out of respect. And if the vast majority of the populace found it an insult for me as a woman to offer my bare hand to shake hands with a man, I would not offer my hand, even though it is my custom. I would try my best to always respect the customs of the culture I was living in or visiting.

But then…there is always the dilemma; what if I was expected to go naked in a certain culture? Would I do that? I don’t think so. What if everyone kissed everyone on the lips as a greeting and for me to refuse would be deeply insulting? Again, even though I would intensely dislike upsetting others, I don’t think I’d be able to kiss everyone on the lips in greeting.

I mean, ew.

So whose offended feelings take precedence? If someone believes deeply that it is an offensive thing to shake hands with a woman out of respect to their own culture/religion’s rules, who are we to say, “suck it up and do it anyway, buddy”.

Conversely, who is he or anyone to refuse to participate in such an old and very well known custom knowing full well that in the job he is applying for there will be many people from different religions and cultures from all over the world?

That’s the problem with these kinds of issues; each side usually does have a valid point.

I’m sure as our world continues to shrink, we’ll eventually learn how to get along despite all our multi-faceted and complicated customs, various religions, etc., etc. Well, I have hopes that we will. 🙂

As for the racist redneck woman-hater guy who went out of his way to put me down (and who a few years later was arrested for spousal abuse):

He had no higher moral ground or ethical excuse; he was just being a jerk. 😀

21 08 2008
AbuSinan

Colloquielle,

You’ll find some Muslims, and Jews, do not shake hands at all.

As to respecting society, it is the hallmark of a free society that you can pick and choose what you want from the culture. Once you start mandating what you MUST choose then you are no longer free. If he truly lives in a free society then his religious views should be accomodated as long as they do not injure others or cause public mayhem.

I am a Muslim American, there are a LOT of things done here that I dont agree with. Many of them are a part of our culture, so I have the RIGHT to decide for myself not to do so. At the same time, I am not going to force my beliefs on people and ban them from doing so. THAT is freedom. Imagine how it would go over if I went out to a company lunch and told people they couldnt eat pork because I am offended by it? Imagine if I told them no wine because my religioon forbids it? It wouldnt go over well. Demanding that others conform to your views is nonsense.

If a man chooses not to shake hands, that is his business. It is a cultural issue, it is a religious issue. No one is free when they are told they cannot practice the terms of their own religion when it harms no one.

Annie, you write “Personally I believe in attempting to follow the customs of the culture you are in whenever possible to avoid inadvertently insulting others in that culture. ”

Certainly you see the difference between culture and religion. So a person is forced to go against their religion, what they feel is mandated to them by God, because the culture requires what is really a meaningless gesture?

You also write “there will be many people from different religions and cultures from all over the world?”

More reason for the religion and customs of others to be accepted and respected. It is all about understanding. Culture versus religion. Certainly the lady being a bit upset over the cultural issue of a handshake doesnt trump this man’s religion does it?

21 08 2008
Haleem

Aafke, looks like it’s a touchy issue out there! (yes yes, bad pun)

I see it the same way as a girl applying for job at Hooters. I presume you have Hooters in Holland. If a muslim girl was rejected because she can’t wear the tight t-shirt and shorts as it’s against her religion, it’s not a slight on her religion. It’s just a part of job she CAN’T do.

21 08 2008
AbuSinan

Haleem,

I wonder if the job description required touching everyone you come into contact with? I am betting it didnt.

21 08 2008
MJK

I think it is wrong for this man to make women to feel miserable and insulted for his sake because he is so religious.
I would respect it much more if he would say ‘I can’t take this job because it requires me to do things that are against my religion’. He might even move to another country because he feels Dutch culture clashes with his religion.
But then he might have to take a pay cut, maybe give up some luxury. Apparently his religion is not *that* important to him. Other people (who could not care less about it) must make the sacrifices for *his* religion.

21 08 2008
Midwest Reporter

Breaking news, S in US will not comment for the next 3 months. He was last seen going into hiding in a Midwestern tornado shelter, following the latest Danish cartoon scandal..

21 08 2008
AbuSinan

MJK,

So the man should not be allowed to have the position if he cannot fulfill a minor cultural act not specifically descriped in the job description? Are you really saying because the woman (or it could be a man if it was a Muslim woman) should be allowed to trump this person religious beliefs because of one act that is cultural and has no real impact on his performance of the job?

Amazing!

If the woman feels “miserable and insulted” because a person’s religion mandates that they not touch a person of the opposite sex I would have to tell them to get a life.

Everyday we are forced to confront things we do not agree with, but we endure them because we are a tolerant society. If we allow everyone who feels “miserable and insulted” because of minor cultural issues to veto major things in people’s lives, we’d live in an awful world.

Based on this idea I think the guy should go and DEMAND that all of the legal prostitution houses shut down in Holland. After all, they might make him feel “miserable and insulted” and it certainly would help keep the women from being sexually discriminated against, and it is institutional sexism that allows the sex trade to be legal.

21 08 2008
Aafke

Abu Sinan,
No, I do not trust people on their handshake.
Yes, a handshake is a cultural issue. A Dutch cultural issue. I don’t think the job in question mandates the employee follows all Dutch customs. But apparently the council of Rotterdam, and the Dutch court, considered this particular custom as important, and the exclusion of women to shake hands with as discrimination of women.

I understand your point that this men’s unwillingness to shake women’s hand may have nothing to do with a feeling of inequality for Dutch women, but I am sure most Dutch women will consider it as discriminating. And this man will be very much aware of that.
Now that may not be an ideal situation, but you can’t expect everybody to suddenly understand your interpretation of this men’s reluctance. It is too alien to our Dutch culture, at this time.
Nor am I as sanguine as you that this man’s motives are as pure as you suppose.

The Dutch have been extremely tolerant for many ages. Lately we have been taken advantage of só much that the Dutch are rethinking the value of tolerance, and many want some limit to tolerance. To be open and tolerate as much as we have been has resulted in misuse, and abuse.
And I personally find restricting the freedoms our mothers and grandmothers have been fighting for defenitely a limit. One of these freedoms is the ongoing fight to have women regarded as equal in value to men.
This man’s refusal to shake hands only with women sets my hair on edge. And I don’t care what his motives are (and I am severely suspicious of his motives) It freaks me out! I do take it as an insult.

Why should this man be put in n official position where people must trust him?
And why should our Dutch customs give way in the Netherlands to the customs of a foreign culture?

I am sorry but if he had the job, every time this man would shake hands with men, but not with women he will be giving an unpleasant feeling to at least the women.
How can you come up with drinking alcohol in this matter? No government job, or any other, requires you to drink alcohol! I don’t drink alcohol, and I have never been expected to, It is perfectely acceptable not to drink alcohol.

Like I said, nobody is supposed to follow all the cultural customs of the Netherlands, but naturally some customs are given more importance than others.
And we also take equality very serious. Another Dutch cultural custom of the highest order. That also means equality between men and women. Anybody who feels that there should be un-equality and that he should express that so clearly and constantely, should expect resistance. And you have been explaining this man might not actually see not touching women as inequality, but again:very few Dutch people will believe that. That is, at the moment, a fact. Moreover the inequality of the position of women in Islamic countries is undeniable, so you will not be able to convince the Dutch that extreme respect for women is the case here. It just won’t happen.

We do not ban hijab, because that is percieved as a religious issue, It is worn on the head and only being a hijabi does not make any difference to the people you meet.
I btw do feel that different, and restricting dress-codes for women is indicative of making an unhealthy distinction.

21 08 2008
Aafke

Colloquielle, you can postscript as many times as you like.

I think shaking nobody’s hand would be more acceptable in the Netherlands.

What is G&T???

Annie, Thank you for commenting. Your story explaines the feeling most women will have when being refused shaking hands. Again, that may be unfounded because the man in question might have such deep respect for women, but that will be the general feeling he will give to women.

out of respect to hurting Dutch women’s feelings he could also consider giving hands to women. While Islam calls for respect towards women (preciously little in evidence in my opinion) I cannot see it why suddenly a handshake is of such major importance.

And you know what?
Again, it is what a man wants. Men are more important than women, so one man´s obsession with shaking hands is more important than having many, many women feel bad, uncomfortable, or insulted.

21 08 2008
Aafke

Abu Sinan, the fact that orthodox jews, who also aren’t into equality for women, don’t shake hands with women either, does nothing to make it more acceptable to me in an official position. No man, of no religion, should hold a client-manager position in a country where, however mistakingly, such a distinction would be percieved as highly discriminatory.

He is free to interpret his religion whichever way he wants, he is not free to push this in a professional and perhaps overbearing position onto his culturally different clients.

Thank you Haleem, for lowering this conversation to hooters! 🙂
Nobody hàs to work at a hooters: there are other jobs. I don’t think we have one here, ask Rhysz!

MJK; yes, he can also look for another job. He cannot but be aware that his refusal to shake women’s hands is highly controversial in the country of his choosing.

Midwest Reporter: Coward!!!

Abu, dude, shaking hands would not be in any job-description because the idea of refusing to shake hands is too absurd for the Dutch.
But the man will have been very aware of this when he was applying for the job, so sorry, that one doesn’t hold.

You’re telling me to get a life…
You are speaking to a blogging nerd: Too late dude! 😀

*Everyday we are forced to confront things we do not agree with* Yes, Abu, tell that to the guy wishing to push his personal ideology onto others.
You know very well that closing brothels does not prostitution end. The reason brothels are allowed in holland is to form some sort of protection for prostitutes, and to have some sort of regulations. However imperfect.
I’m going to write a post on that soon actually, Bedu asked for it.

And you are só right: prostitution is misuse of women in the hands of men, and is totally sexist. We are still living in a society where the needs of men are more important than the needs of women. Where men still get more pay for doing the same jobs as women. Where crimes against women count less. etc. etc. etc.
And in this still unequal society, it is extremely galling for many women, to be refused (for whatever reasons) to have their hands shaken in contradiction to men.
I rest my case

21 08 2008
Umm Ibrahim

You have discussed and discussed how a woman may feel when a man refuses to shake her hand but it does work the other way too… there are women who do not wish to shake hands with males. Personally I try to avoid that – albeit politely, perhaps with a smile, “Pleased to meet you,” and hand on chest gesture.

22 08 2008
Saudi in US

Ok, I am coming out of hiding. I cannot stand this Internet isolation for 2 hrs. I am too much of a nerd as certified by your quizzes :). At least I was able to acquire a bullet proof vest.

Seriously though, these discussions about fairness to every religion idiosyncrasies can get out of hand. It is obvious to me that this is not a case of discrimination. I view it as a life style choice rather than religious argument.

We can analyze it to death the fact remains that when you are in relationship management, everything is about perceptions. If you want the job, you have to pay the ticket price, in this case you cannot make your clients feel awkward by not shaking their hands. Yes you can explain it away, if you are lucky to say 80% (taking time of people’s day I may add), but there will be the 20% that will not understand without a long lesson on Islamic etiquette. No employer wants to take that type of risk on a new employee. What is practical is for the man to find a job that suits his life style. It is that simple…

22 08 2008
Aafke

Umm Ibrahim, I understand you, as I said earlier: I am not too keen on shaking hands with everybody either.
I have two points: It ís a problem when you want to become client-manager for a council.

And as women are still regarded second-rate in some instances, this, coming from a man in an official position of power, comes across very differently as from a woman in no position.

I wouldn’t want a woman in this particular job either if she’d refuse to shake mens hands, but having it come from a man against women is just a tad more unpleasant.

22 08 2008
Aafke

Saudi in Us, thank you for putting it succinctly. I have been talking far too much.
I agree on everything you said…

I knèw you’d come out of hiding 😀

22 08 2008
Colloquielle

I’m just gonna ask Rhysz about Hooters – brb… 😉

G&T = Gin & Tonic. I ❤ my boss, lol.

AbuSinan: “his religious views should be accomodated as long as they do not injure others or cause public mayhem.”

This is the problem. His views can be accommodated just fine – Holland is a very tolerant and open place – it’s when his actions start to offend another minority in an imperfect society that the problems start. As I’ve explained, if he abstains from the cultural practise of handshaking, with people of both genders equally, that’s fine. When he starts discriminating between men and women, that’s where HE is transgressing. I’m not saying he has to shake women’s hands, I’m saying he should recognise that to shake men’s hands and not women’s is a sensitive issue itself, and he can prevent it quite easily.

22 08 2008
Colloquielle

See, I need to type faster – Saudi in US put it really well.

22 08 2008
Lofter

Ditto on Saudi in US’s comments. The man should seek out a job that allows him to practice his religion according to whichever sect he follows, rather than expect others to modify their expectations to meet his. In my job, I’ve been required to do many things that I don’t “agree” with – however, they are expected by my employer. (And the same expectations apply to both men and women, regardless of religious affiliations. If their religion doesn’t allow them to do the job, they’re history – and rightfully so.)
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to remind employees that THEY must fit the JOB criteria, not the other way around, I’d be… well, considering the value of the dollar these days, it probably wouldn’t make much difference. But still…

22 08 2008
Haleem

Maybe he can just do “namaste”…like the Indians.

Suddenly it will become exotic.

22 08 2008
American Bedu

Great post Aafke!!!

I’m mixed on this one…

As I read your original post I thought to myself, gee, he must be an Iranian by ethnicity. During my entire diplomatic career and since then, I’ve yet to meet an Iranian male who will shake hands with a woman. That’s part of the culture and I just naturally accepted it and never challenged it. I’m sure there are exceptions out there to this rule but I’ve not encountered them yet. Although there are other muslim men who also share the belief it is not appropriate to shake a woman’s hand. If the woman is not a “sanctioned” relative she would not be seen unless properly covered. If she is a “sanctioned” relative (wife, mother, sister, Aunt) there would not be handshakes but kisses on the cheek or forehead instead.

So back to my earlier comment…I’m mixed on this one. I respect the man’s cultural upbringing and beliefs. He is remaining true to how he was raised, to his ethics and morals.

I guess then the issue is due to his strong beliefs, does that then make him unsuitable for the job? Who is really the one being intolerant here?

There’s not enough info about the situation here but it does make me wonder if there were room for compromise and whether or not any attempts for compromise were made — IF he were viewed as otherwise being the prime candidate for the position?

22 08 2008
AbuSinan

All I have to say is thank God I work for the government here in the USA, the land of real religious freedom it would seem. Holland, Saudi Arabia…….becoming as one.

Here we can pray, fast, they even set aside places for us to break our fast, women can wear hijab, and if someone tried to fire you for not shaking hands, THEY would be fired.

I am not usually a nationalistic person, but sometimes I just have to say “Thank God for America”.

I guess I need to remember that America was founded by those fleeing religious persecution in Europe. Amazing that the USA would turn out to be the one place that a Muslim would be allow to practice their religion in peace.

22 08 2008
Lofter

It never ceases to amaze me how individuals have come to such a bizarre sense of entitlement, thinking that others around them should ‘compromise’ requirements in order to accommodate their beliefs. In relation to the original topic, if the man couldn’t – for whatever reason – shake the woman’s hand, and such behavior – whether relevant or not – is the expectation of the person or agency who is paying for the services of the employee, then the man needs to find a job somewhere else where there are no such expectations. There is no need for ‘compromise’ here! If a group of people want to practice certain religious beliefs – as I, being a Christian, certainly do – then they should choose to live in a country where such a practice is allowed, rather than move to a ‘place’ and expect the ‘place’ to change to suit their beliefs! (The exact reason why I would never come to the KSA! Why should I expect them to ‘compromise’ to accommodate me if it’s not within them to do so!)
The plague of political correctness is running rampant all over the world, with people literally killing other human beings over such idiotic and mundane issues. And the simple truth is this: There is not enough ‘compromise’ in the world to accommodate human beings who, even within the confines of thier own religions, can’t come to agreement amongst themselves. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”
Foolishness, indeed. When in Rome, you do as the Romans… you don’t expect the Romans to do as you!

Now, please allow me a moment to make sure the target is firmly affixed, then commence firing at will.

22 08 2008
Annie

I wrote a long comment here yesterday and then lost it by hitting a wrong key, AUGH!

Fortunately you were all spared. Heh. 😉

Anyway, actually, no I don’t believe religious beliefs “trump” over all else just because it is someone’s religion. There are so many religions and cultural beliefs, they all differ, they are all hotly believed in and in many cases they clash. Instead I try to apply understanding according to each specific instance, whether it’s religious or custom or societal in origin.

In this situation, I see it as others have already said here; when you apply for a job position there are certain requirements for that job. This job requires being able to act and behave according to certain cultural manners of that area. This gentleman is not prepared to do that because of his religious beliefs. Okay, fine, no one is stopping him from not shaking women’s hands, nobody said he cannot do that anymore, he is free to be who is he and go on the rest of his life not shaking womens’ hands. But the job he was applying for requires something beyond what he can give so it should go to someone else who can fulfill those job requirements.

22 08 2008
Colloquielle

I LOVE the cartoon 😀

22 08 2008
Tony

I shake hands with women as well as men although most women here in Australia look at you funny if you put your hand out to shake theirs. They musn’t be used to it.
By the way my new URL is http://tonysplace.wordpress.com
I won’t explain except to say I wasn’t gunna blog no more but you know how it is……

22 08 2008
Colloquielle

Speaking as an Aussie girl, I can say we’re perfectly accustomed to having our hands shaken!

23 08 2008
misspecs

I’m really in agreement with Annie’s previous comment on this.

Not shaking hands in some cultures IS viewed as insulting; and as a Muslim, you’re entitled to your beliefs but please, do not insult others.

In Pakistan, where i live, most people in the upper echelons of society shake hands easily enough. But when we are entertaining any foreign delegates at home, we try to inform them before hand that Men/women do not shake hands with each other. Simply put, if a guest used to shaking hands comes to my house and i ignore only him and not the rest of the entourage, he will feel insulted, there’s no two opinions about it.

It seems to me that some people here are not for ‘co-existing’ but all for enforcing your existence upon others. Yes, although we have this right to shake or not shake, please don’t forget your manners and make allowances for the culture you live in. If its good manners to shake, make sure you’re not offensive when you don’t.

Had the gentleman in question (in the article) been refused a job in Pakistan, i would’ve heartily sympathized. But in this case, sorry. He has to fulfill job requirements. Argue, as we may, the philosophy of refusing to shake hands, the fact of the matter is, an average person will be offended by a refused hand. This brings to mind the case of this woman who was denied a job in a hip hair dressing salon because she wore a hijab. In Pakistan, we do not have mixed salons, so i could sympathize with her. However, the place where she was in, it would make a customer distrustful of her if she still covered her hair.

I do not sympathize with these people. Not too long ago when i was choosing the subject for my masters, i chose Finance only because with a hijab, its hard to go into marketing. I knew i would have to be in contact with people and I knew the limitations i would bring to my job, so i chose another option which went with my beliefs. Today, when i see girls in scarves complaining they aren’t getting a good job as a receptionist… well, maybe they SHOULD, theoretically speaking, but if that’s not what people want, sorry. Take your disappointment and try for something else.

23 08 2008
Aafke

Bedu,
this man was applying for a job in which he would be representing a Dutch council, and would routinely meet with women, and given his ideas about touching women, I am wondering he can live with interacting with women who will not be properly modestly dressed according to his code. He also insisted that he would wear traditional islamic clothes to work every day, not modern western clothes. This mode of dress is most unusual in Holland. he knows he is making a strong statement doing this, a statement which would be off putting to the general (Dutch) public. I am sure he knows this very well. So does his refusal to shake hands with women only. In our culture this would send a clear message that women are unworthy. That may be completely wrong but we are talking about normal people from the street. He knows that too.
This man was allready working for the council, but in a back-office where his duties didn’t include dealing with, and having to inspire trust, with general Dutch clients.

The council have been working very hard to come to some sort of agreement with this man; he refused to budge.
Perfectly allright, if you have standards you should stick by them. He is perfectely entiteld to have his own standards, but I take it this man isn’t stupid.
I expect he is very much aware of the impression his dress and behaviour would give to his common dutch council-clients.
This impression, wrong or right, will be for the majority of Dutch people that at best he disdains Dutch customs, and at worst that he is a religious bigot, and discriminates against women.
The majority of Dutch women will not feel comfortable with this man.

Of course he can spend every session with a friendly lecture on his own culture and believes, but that is not his job, nor what he would be paid for, nor would it be in the interest of his clients at that time. I presume they had some problems or business in mind, not a lecture on a foreign culture.

To recap: everybody is free to persue their religion and culture in the Netherlands. But we are a secular state, and pushing the cultural and religious habits of a small minority, has no place in a council office. Besides knowing beforehand such customs will be percieved as insulting (however mistakingly) by many of the clients who need to be able to trust the client-manager.

So perhaps in a few years all the dutch will be educated enough on the different customs of the Islamic sects in the Netherlands, and then so few would be upset by this kind of behaviour as to make it not problem to have him in this position. But I myself have serious doubts about his objectivity. When I consider the general position of women in Islamic environments, I am not sanguine that this obviously rigidly conservative Islamic man, if working for the Dutch government, will be considering me, as a woman, in the way I want to be considered. And I would have the same problem with any other man from any other strongly conservative religious sect which is at the moment denying women equal rights.

Abu Sinan:
your comment was in spam?
The man was not fired, he was rejected for a job he applied for.
I really can’t agree with your comparing Holland with KSA.
Holland is a secular state. People here can built all the mosques, temples, whatever they want, all religions besides christians get air-time on public radio and television, muslims, hindus and buddhists and jews etc. Our media gives attention to the respective festivals of all these minority religions. Even though everybody has some open free-days so they can get off work whenever you want to, there are real plans to proclaim Eid as an official Dutch holiday. . And that for a small minority of people living in Holland! Everybody who wants to wear hijab is free to do so. Some dutch people try to fast a few days in Ramadhan in solidarity to muslim friends.
Everybody can air and spread as much news, information, or garbage as they like, from the creepyist religious bigots to right-wing creeps to green new-age nutters.
Tell me in which way this is comparable to the situation in the Theocracy Saudi Arabia.

I can’t seem to make it clear that this one particular job requires the client-manager to inspire trust and a feeling of equality. which he doesn’t! Which he doesn’t want to.

I posted this because I am glad that our own culture of equality, and the feelings of women, are not glossed over. This time.

Lofter: It is imaginable that a man doesn’t shake hands with women on an acceptable basis; read Abu Sinan’s first comment. Likewise I will readily accept it from AbuSinan himself, because I know him and I do believe him to be honest and to respect women. But, if AbuSinan would insist on wearing nothing but thobes and ghutras and distinguish so clearly between men and women I would still not consider him suitable for the specific Dutch client-manager council position under discussion here.
Sorry Abu.
Yes, I think what galls me in this case is: wanting to work for the dutch government, while expecting everybody around him, and all the clients he would meet every day, all to conform to his ideas. I don’t think anybody has the right to expect anybody else to conform to your ideas.

Although I do expect all of you, Abu too, to conform to mine!!!!!!!

Annie: aaarghh happens to me too!!!!
Thanks for commenting again.
And you agree with me, that is good too. :mrgreen:

Colloquielle: thank you! 🙂

Tony: They are afraid you might plant a curtious hand-kiss!!!
Welcome back! Dear Tasman! I’m getting used to your dissappearing and appearing! The only thing is that I’m always worried when you delete your blog (again) because I want you to be happy.

Colloquielle: Tha Tasman is from Tasmania!

23 08 2008
Aafke

In my imagination I can imagine this man to be a good candidate for the job in question: If he is an absolutely lovely person: warm, and friendly, and loving to all. In such a way that everybody would immediately see and feel this and be deeply impressed by his humanity and warm honest personality.
And all women would immediately know this man will help and honour and protect all women.

But somehow I doubt him to be like this.

23 08 2008
Aafke

Miss Specs: was writing myself when you commented.
Like you, Rhysz, and Saudi in US have said: when visiting another country one should make an effort to adjust.
That goes for me when I’m visiting you, and for this bloke when he wants a client-manager job in the Netherlands. (and outside that job nobody even expects it of him!)

PS, hijab is becoming fashionable right now! Might be better for getting jobs!

23 08 2008
Checkers

This is way too involved for my poor Cardigan brain, but you tell them, Aafke! Tell ’em how it is!!!

23 08 2008
Saudi in US
23 08 2008
Rhysz

@Saudi in US

I’m not sure if the pic when I hover over your post is what you actually sent but……

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You’re officially honorary Dutch!
Welcome to the fold mate!

23 08 2008
Abu Sinan

Ah well, I guess we have to agree to disagree. I have to wish you a “Happy Birthday”.

No harm no foul right? How about we shake on it? LOL! }:>)

BTW, I was just talking to Manal and ran the situation by her. She said you have it right. If the man is so religious he ought to look for a job where he has no interaction with women. Straight from the Saudi female’s mouth. I guess I am out voted!

23 08 2008
Saudi in US

Rhysz,

I am honored to be considered. Does that mean I have to wear orange now 😦

Just kidding, I actually always root for the Netherlands in the world cup and have a couple of soccer orange shirts, since Saudi does not have a chance. One of those days I want to see the Netherlands win one.

23 08 2008
American Bedu

Aafke,

Thanks for the further clarification on the position, duties and background of the individual. Although I certainly would be curious on knowing more of the man…do you know for certain that he wears a thobe and not some other form of “islamic” dress?

If his attitude and actions were precluding him from fulfilling the duties of the job, then he should be reprimanded and made to modify his behavior or removed.

23 08 2008
Aafke

Checkers; don’t worry, these silly human nonsense problems will never be your lot!

Saudi in US, Thank you, well done, but my birthday is on 30 August?
you are now offically allowed to wear orange T-shirts 😀

AbuSinan: Yes! Thank you Manal! You know Abu, we don’t know as much as I should like. It is entirely possible in the Netherlands this man was not brought up as such at all, but has suddenly seen the salafi-light or something like that. We don’t know. He might even be originally dutch!
My birthday is 30 August!

Bedu: We don’t know enough. it is a pity, makes making up ones mind much more difficult. That’s why I don’t like ”The News” i never feel I get enough information. The manner of dress wasn’t described clearly. but it seemed to be a very unusual kind of dress. Most muslims in Holland wear westernclothes. Hijab overhere means often a shayla tied tight around the head with a knot in the back, together with tight fashion dress. with maybe short sleeves. Older women can sometimes be seen in abaya or jilbab. One black women I often see at the market wears a long loose large shawl over a hijab, usually in orange and white, with her very black skin I always think she looks beautiful! But men in ”islamic dress” are very rare. At least where I live.

23 08 2008
Umm Sumayah

Aaflake,
I just hopped over from Carol’s blog…and it’s nice to see your blog! And happy birthday:)

I’m on the fence on this issue when it comes to my personal beliefs. I would prefer not to shake hands with a man, but if it is offered I don’t refuse.

I wonder, if it were a Muslim woman who applied for the job and she couldn’t shake hands with male clients, would those men feel unequal, beneath her, or discriminated against? Or is this just an issue because it involved a man?

Also, I think alot of people forget sometimes that Muslims are a part of western culture too. Abu Sinan and I are both American Muslims, so American culture IS our culture!
Lofter wrote “When in Rome, you do as the Romans… you don’t expect the Romans to do as you!” But what if you are a Roman who does things a little differently than other Romans? We are living during a time that allows the different cultures and religions of the world to come together every day. I think it’s time that we start accepting and embracing that, rather than being so closed minded about other peoples preferences and practices.

With that said, I agree with the majority of you who said that the man shouldn’t have recieved the job. If you cannot preform all of the duites and obligations of a job, for whatever reason, you are not an ideal candidate for the job! That’s not discrimination, that’s just common sense.

23 08 2008
Umm Sumayah

and ps…i butchered your name!!! sorry!!!

A-a-f-k-e

don’t know where those extra letters came from!

23 08 2008
fairuza

Okay, I am way late on this comment so I won’t get into it too much. Besides, I think everything has already been said.

I would like to add that Orthodox Jewish men do not only NOT shake hands, they will also go to outrageous extents NOT TO EVEN WALK IN BETWEEN TWO FEMALES. I was in a hallway one time and was talking to my sister in law on the opposite wall of the hall and an Orthodox man walked up to the point where we were at and stopped dead in his tracks. My sister in law knew what he was doing, I had no clue. When she told me the reason he stopped, I was pissed. In my opinion, the Jewish laws to segregate/avoid women are technically, far more demeaning. Women are not supposed to touch their husbands one bit during their periods, and not supposed to touch their food, and on and on.

My opinion is that a handshake is not that big of a deal. I personally love it when I see Brothers simply smile, nod their head and place there hand over their hearts in front of a woman, when they refuse a handshake….that’s a beautiful gesture. It relieves the “awkwardness”.

Funny story relating to touching…..once, I saw an old male friend (who I hadn’t seen since 8th grade) when I was at a grocery store years back and he saw me, ran over, picked me up and twirled me around. I was 15 shades of red!

That was one time that a simple handshake would have been preferable. LOL

That’s all I wanted to add.

Ohhh, and Happy Birthday. I would love to be there and binge on expensive chocolate with you…..oh well.

23 08 2008
Aafke

Umm Sumayah, I really liked your interpretation of my name! Welcome to my blog, and thank you for commenting. 🙂 I am especially interested in the views of muslims on this issue.

Fairuza: Or orthodox jews, as they also have segregation issues. 🙂
As a woman I am a bit touchy on being discriminated against.
Welcome to my blog 🙂
And thank you for posting a short comment 😉
I agree that these anti-women rules are even more galling.
I think the salaam with the hand over the heart very beautiful, and a nice way to be greeted. It´s the difference of treatment between the sexes that will be irritating to for the normal, general dutch/of/the/street people.

Ok, okeeee, I might share out some of the chocolate….

29 08 2008
intlxpatr

Once, applying for jobs, it listed the amount of time one spent at the desk every day, and percentages doing other tasks. Once I read the amount of time spent at the desk for the job I had thought of applying for, I didn’t apply. I knew I just couldn’t do it (maybe a little ADD)

Jobs have requirements. I love it that job titles are becoming equal opportunity – a fireman is now a firefighter. You have to be able to lift 50 pounds (I am making that up as an example) A woman can qualify.

The man couldn’t shake hands with half of his customers. That’s a liability. They hired the better qualified candidate. End of story – or so I would think!

29 08 2008
coolred38

I call the refusal to shake hands…the Cootie Complex…girls have them…boys want to avoid them. It starts out from a very young age in the school yards….girls know they have cooties and run around trying to touch boys and infect them…boys run for their lives completely unaware that in a few short years those very same cooties will be all they can think about and desire.

Of course thats in the states…in the middle east(generally speaking here) the Cooties Complex is much more deeply ingrained…and while the male still desires those cooties…he is advised to jump in the shower and wash them off as soon as possible after contact…and he is only immune to the cooties that are aquired through contact with his wife (or to a lesser extent his mother and sister) the cooties from other woman are much too powerful to overcome and therefore should be avoided at all costs.

A handshake could be deadly people…this is no laughing matter.

7 09 2008
FB

I’m a muslim woman and I don’t shake hands with men. This wasn’t forced on me by my family or any person in authority; in fact, I started this properly when I started living on my own in a foreign country (not an Islamic country, by the way). I chose to do this because it is the teaching of my religion; there should be no unnecessary contact between men and women. It doesn’t mean that I look down on men. Often in our clamour for freedom and equality, we make men seem like the devils and forget the other side. So some people may say that a man is treating women derogatorily because he won’t shake hands with them. Does that mean that I think men are inferior if I don’t shake hands with them?

On the contrary, I respect men and believe them to be my equals (and a lot of people would call me a Muslim feminist) but my religion is my priority. My refusal to shake hands with a man does not mean I hate him and I believe I should have the liberty to choose who can touch me. I was the MC of a seminar where the invited speakers are prominent business men and leaders in their respective fields. As the MC, I was supposed to greet them and shake their hands before we began the event. I greeted them but explained, smiling (as I always do), that I wouldn’t be able to shake hands with the men.

It didn’t cause anyone to go off in a huff. Part of being tolerant and open-minded is understanding other people’s ways and seeing what can be compromised on each side. I CANNOT shake hands with a man but a man CAN understand that I mean him no harm by this action. My whole demeanor shows that I’m pleased to talk to him/whatever. I don’t HAVE to shake his hand to prove that. People do not have to follow the same cultural practices in other to get along. We can’t all be clones of each other. I do not demand that everyone should do the same as I do; why can’t I be given the same freedom and respect I extend to other’s beliefs?

Aafke, this isn’t an attack on your post. I’m merely presenting my take on the issue.

8 09 2008
Saudi in US

Is this the same guy?

http://islamineurope.blogspot.com/2008/09/rotterdam-lawyer-may-stay-sitting.html

Funny thing is he cannot support this position that Islam prohibits a person to stand for a judge. I am not sure why the court ruled in his favor on this. He had a stronger position with the shacking the hand case and that was weak.

14 09 2008
Aafke

intxpatr, So one would think…

Coolred38: ”Cooties Complex” LOL!!!!

FB, Don’t worry, everybody can speak their mind here, and I really enjoy reading your comment, but you speak about yourself alone; your personal preference in your personal, non-official surroundings.
The post is about a man, who has to shake hands for his job as a representative of the city council, in a country where refusing to shake hands is percieved as insultin, and refusing to shake hands only with women, is percieved as a double insult to all women. What do you think about this?

Saudi in US, Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I don’t know if it’s the same man, but I think it’s highly desirable some officials in the Netherlands will gain some serious knowledge about Islam, so they can discern between what would be a proper religious tolerance, and what is inappropriate to condone under the false guise of ”religion”.

15 09 2008
Saudi in US

I think it is the same man, but i could not research it to be certain. When i googled his name I got many dutch articles. He now has a law degree and going to challenge the system every chance he could.

I think all Western systems should enact laws that makes a person pay for court costs and opposing lawyers costs when they lose cases like this. That will stop those over zealots from filling these law suits quick.

15 09 2008
Aafke

The problem in the Netherlands is, that everybody is só worried about stepping onto somebodies toes, and bothering them in any little detail of their culture or religion that things are taken to the opposite extreme. And that’s why I am happy they have taken a stance for once, at something which isn’t reasonable anymore.

And I am truly amazed that the dutch government doesn’t have some people who do some proper studies, and are able to draw the line between proper respect for other cultures/believes, and assumption and abuse of our tolerance.

9 10 2008
DW

On my first day of work, I arrived to orientation 5 minutes late because I was held back by the badging process, My boss was also the person responsible for coordinating the orientation.. I am a Saudi and she is a Saudi as well… the funny thing was that I was so nervous I extended my hand for a shake.. she waved for me to go inside.. and I was still click, click click.. I didn’t get it. Took me a few more secs to realize I just should bugger off inside.

When people stop viewing handshakes as a condemned process into introducing people.. If self righteous zealots stop hindering Muslims life in every little detail trying to run it by their own interpretation it would save us a lot of time and brain cells.

11 10 2008
Aafke

DW, Welcome to my blog! Shaking hands with all and sundry! Tsss! You should know better 😉
I also think such harping on details is only done by people who are forgetting the real message. Anyway, FB said, earlier, ”there should be no unnecessary contact between men and women” That may be open to interpretation, In the case of this job-description, it actually is nesseccary to shake hands!
I myself believe this particular guy has some sort of need to feel superior to others and mis-uses his religion to satisfy his craving. I don’t mean women only either, I thinks he wants everybody to bow to his whims, his superiors, the Dutch law, éverybody!!!!
I wonder: religion is between you and God, and I don’t think using Islam like this, to serve your personal craving for importance, is what was meant….

4 11 2008
Drake

Grant you just made yourself something to do with it,

4 11 2008
Aafke

Drake, I have no idea what you are talking about?
Elaborate.

20 02 2009
tanya

Hi,

Reading through your blog. A little late, but Aafke, I have to agree with you here. It is unfair to bend and bend and bend your culture trying to be nice and fair to new comers and then end up losing your own culture and being held hostage to the new comers’ culture. Being tolerant of others does not mean you want to give up your own culture or have no culture to be proud of. Abu Sinan wants everyone else to be open-minded so that others can be as close-minded as possible. I wonder what Abu Sinan’s opinion on Geert Wilders is? Or the crazy Danish cartoons? Are those ok expressions of one’s belief?

Grrr – get tired of being tolerant all the time and then run over by bigots.

21 02 2009
Aafke

Tanya, welcome to my blog! 🙂
AbuSinan is like my little brother: he get’s this idea into his head and then has to defend it armed to the teeeth! After all, his wife told him I was in the right, and then he stopped in his tracks a bit 😉

I also make the point that what thia bloke about is not religion but one form of repressive culture, one we should not tolerate.

What’s your opinion of Geert Wilders? I think he’s as loony as the nutter who refuses to shake hands with women! And I draw a ”danish Cartoon” regularly on this blog! :mrgreen:

13 03 2010
Asya

I looked through your blog and i just wanted to say couple of things. First of all i understand that this is your opinion and everyone’s entitled to their own opinions but i just couldn’t appriciate you making sarcastic remarks about muslims. Secondly, this hand shaking issue, as a young muslim woman (receint convert, brought up in europe as an orthodox) i wouldn’t shake a man’s hand either. It’s not directed towards women only, it’s mutual, we do not shake hands with the oposite sex, no matter if it’s a man or a woman. The fact that they denied him a position because of this is understandable, it’s a dutch goverment, you want to do things the way you do things over there, it’s sad that it’s such a big deal though, in the end it’s just a handshake. Also this “no touching” rule is in respect for women and to protect women, to prevent women being (sexually) abused by men.
As regarding to blacking out pictures, there’s nothing funny about it and we do not do it cause we’re unhappy and we want everyone to be unhappy or other silly reasons. It’s not like i’m going to come home to you and black out all the pictures you have, but in my home i wouldn prefer not to have any, cause we believe that angels do not enter a house with pictures on the walls etc. It’s prerfectly fine to have a valid opinion about things but in the future please do not make fun of things you don’t even understand, if you have a point, you have a point, but there’s no reason to insult another person’s believes!

19 03 2010
safa

I don’t shake hands with men not even women, I would respect a man who greeted me politely without touching me.
And think about it, does anyone really want to touch a stranger’s hand, where has this hand been….

21 03 2010
Aafke

Asya and safa, welcome to my blog.
It is clear neither of you seems to have taken the trouble to actually read my post, and the intelligent comments generated by it.
Which bugs me. It makes me feel I am wasting my time here.

All I can say is that if you really equate a handshake with sex you seriously need some professional counselling.

14 10 2011
Anonymous

Likewise Muslim women can’t shake hands with non Mahram men.
I think he’s much happier now. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
It’s not about either sex being unclean, it’s about both sexes putting a stop to things that lead to fornication.

14 10 2011
Anonymous

P.S. it starts with a handshake and can EVENTUALLY lead to the bedroom. I think it’s pretty clear if you pay attention. Doesn’t mean it always happens, but who is anyone to say they know it won’t happen?

14 10 2011
Aafke-Art

I think it’s an insane and paranoid illusion that something as polite and simple as a handshake will lead to ”fornication”.
Moreover, as I stated before, if you are that much mentally unbalanced (not to mention suffer from so much delusion of grandeur) that you are convinced that you will end up ”fornicating” with every woman whom you meet in your professional capacity, then you shouldn’t take a job where you are required to do so.
At the very least you have no right to complain if people complain about your boorish, egotistical, paranoid and rude behavior.

A situation which might lead to ”fornication” is to have two people who are very much attracted to each other sit naked in a sauna on comfortable cushions with too much to drink up, romantic misc playing and the door locked. Anything less is paranoid.
Besides, why shouldn’t have people have sex if they are both willing and consenting?

16 10 2011
StrangeOne

I believe that part of being culturally aware means doing what is culturally appropriate in each given situation. In some circumstances, shaking hands denotes respect while in others it can be taken for something else entirely. Especially in positions of leadership, I would expect a person to be able to discern the differences and act accordingly.

I do not understand why some people think of handshakes as being sexual, unless it is a particular handshake in which one’s hand is lovingly caressed and kissed in a way that denotes sexual interest (which would obviously not be appropriate in a business setting). However, saying that all handshakes are sexual is a bit like saying that making eye contact is also always sexual. Sure, making eye contact with a certain someone can be sexual at times, but that does not mean it is always that way, nor does it mean that it would be that way with others.

Aafke,
You may also want to mention that the “situation which might lead to fornication” might also lead to fits of nausea if it is two people who are very much un-attracted to each other.

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