Muslim woman who refused to shake hands wins discrimination case

Farah Alhajeh.
Farah Alhajeh. Photo credit: Supplied.

A Muslim woman in Sweden has won a discrimination case after a prospective employer ended a job interview early due to her refusal to shake hands with him.

Farah Alhajeh, 24, said she explained to the male interviewer that she did not want to shake his hand due to her faith and instead greeted him by placing a hand over her heart, The Daily Mail reports

Some Muslims avoid touching people of the opposite sex outside of their immediate family and the hand over the heart is a common gesture used in place of a handshake.

Ms Alhajeh told the BBC she will follow the rules of whatever country she lives in but avoids physical contact with everyone.

"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," she told the BBC.

But the man, an executive at the company, took offence and she was frogmarched out of the building.

"Here, everyone must shake hands," Ms Alhajeh told the Swedish Labour Court the interviewer said to her.

The incident left Ms Alhajeh shaken and she decided to report the company to the Discrimination Ombudsman, who took the case to court.

"It had never happened to me before - it didn't feel good at all. It was awful," she told SVT.

The court sided with Ms Alhajeh and ordered the company to pay her 40,000 Swedish krona (NZ$6604) in compensation.


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