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Switzerland Forces Muslim Girls Into The Pool After Six-Year Dispute

REUTERS/Jason Reed

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Switzerland has won a six-year court battle against Muslim parents who refused to let their daughters take part in swimming lessons with boys.

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Tuesday that the state was right in enforcing “the full school curriculum” and ensuring the children’s “successful integration” into Swiss society. ECHR acknowledged the mandatory swimming requirement interfered with religious freedom without violating it, saying it “protects foreign students from any form of social exclusion.”

The dispute has been going on since 2010, when parents were ordered to pay a $1,380 fine for “for acting in breach of their parental duty.”

Tuesday’s ruling follows another highly publicized dispute over whether or not Muslim students should be exempt from the Swiss tradition of shaking hands with teachers. (RELATED: Swiss Court Orders Muslim Students To Shake Hands With Women Or Pay $5000)

Two teenagers were first granted an exception last spring from shaking hands with their female teachers. arguing it violated their faith as Muslims. The school reversed the exception after heavy criticism from the public, which led one of the boys to drop out of school in protest.

A court ruling from September states that handshakes are mandatory in school, and refusals may result in fines of 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,135).

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