By Alexandra Krauska
Rabat – Swiss Authorities denied citizenship applications of two Muslim girls who refused to take swimming lessons with boys because of their religion. The lessons are compulsory in Swiss schools.
The authorities took their refusal as a sign that they have not been assimilated into Swiss culture. Culture, rather than knowledge of history or language, is the primary factor in the naturalization process in Switzerland.
The girls’ names were not disclosed, but they are 12 and 14 years old. They live in Basel, a city in the North of Switzerland. They applied for citizenship several months ago.
The case went to the Supreme Court of Switzerland, where the judges concluded that religious grounds are not sufficient to allow a student to be exempt from the swimming lessons.By not complying with the school curriculum, it is viewed by many as a rejection of Swiss culture.
This is not an isolated case. Several cases in the past few years prevented immigrants from gaining Swiss citizenship based on different cultural practices, behaviors, or beliefs. In one case, a family that wore sweatpants around the town and did not greet their neighbors was denied citizenship. The review board stated that this meant that they were not properly assimilated.
In response to one case, the naturalization commission stated that “The applicant’s answers have shown that his motive for naturalization is not about integration but about the personal advantages it offers.”
For these immigrants, even if they have lived in Switzerland for several years, are fluent in one of the national languages, and have found long-term employment, citizenship is not guaranteed.