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2 Muslim girls denied Switzerland citizenship for refusing swimming lessons with boys

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST

Switzerland has reportedly rejected the citizenship requests of two teenage Muslim girls after they refused to participate in swimming lessons with boys.

The girls, aged 12 and 14, who live in the northern city of Basel, applied for Swiss citizenship several months ago, but their request was denied, Swiss media reported on Tuesday.

The two will now no longer be considered for naturalised citizenship and their applications for Swiss passports have been turned down, USA Today reported.

The teenagers, who are sisters, said that their religion prevents them from participating in compulsory swimming lessons with males in the pool at the same time.

"Whoever doesn't fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalised," Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalisation committee, told TV station SRF.

The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that no dispensations from swimming lessons should be made on religious grounds after a family was fined $1,500 for forbidding their daughters to participate in swimming classes in 2012.

Switzerland naturalisation rules deem that candidates applying for citizenship must prove that they are well assimilated in their communities and respect local customs and traditions.

In April this year, members of an immigrant family in Basel were denied citizenship for wearing sweatpants around town and not greeting passersby - something that the naturalisation board claimed was a sign that they were not sufficiently assimilated, USA Today reported.

In yet another case, Swiss authorities suspended the naturalisation request of two Muslim brothers who had refused to shake hands with their female teacher. This incident had sparked widespread controversy.

First published: 1 July 2016, 4:17 IST