The Dutch Committee for Equal Treatment (Commissie Gelijke Behandeling) decided Tuesday that a teacher of a Dutch highschool may refuse to shake hands, provided she does not diffrentiate between men and women. The committee decided that the requirement to shake hands is not included among the respectful manners the the Utrecht school wants to disseminate.
Samira Dahri, an economics teachers, refused to shake hands following the summer vacation, since it conflicts with her Muslim faith. The school, Vader Rijn College, suspended the teacher last month.
In its manners code the school requires students and teacher to treat each other with respect. The educational institution says it dedicates itself in this way to disseminate Dutch norms and values, a pursuit that was praised by the committee.
However, the committee said this does not mean a teacher can be forced to shake hands. "That is considered by many as not respectful."
The decision follows two earlier decision by the Committee for Equal Treatment in which two men refused to shake hands due to religious convictions. In both cases the committee concluded that it was their right to do so.
The school can ignore the advice. The decision of the committee is not binding. However, the school will not look well if the case comes before the courts.
According to the CGB site, the school has a majority of Turkish and Moroccan students and wants to teach them how to get along in Dutch society. However, the CGB still thinks there are other ways besides the shaking hands to respectfully greet others.
Sources: HLN (Dutch), h/t Rudi, CGB (Dutch)
See also: Netherlands: Find another way to show respect