Amsterdam: Welfare cut for refusal to shake hands, shorten beard

Amsterdam: Welfare cut for refusal to shake hands, shorten beard

In a related story, Inger Støjberg, Danish Minister of Employment, said in parliament that a Muslim women could lose her welfare benefits if she refuses to take a job because the employers demand that she remove her headscarf. According to Dansk Industri this seldom happens. There are only a few employers where wearing a headscarf is a problem, and this is usually due to safety or hygienic reasons, and these employers can offer a different type of head covering. (DA, DA)


It was correct to cut the welfare benefits of an Amsterdam Muslim who refused to shake hands with women, an Amsterdam court ruled.

The man is unemployed and the municipal employment department (DWI) is guiding him to a new job. In that context he was given the possibility earlier this year to train for a security guard. He refused when it turned out that he would have to shorten his beard for that. The reason being that trouble-makers could grab his beard, and the guard would be defenseless. the man has a beard due to his religious convictions.

The man refused a second offer by the DWI because he would have to shake hands with female customers in that positions, which he didn't want due to his faith. For this reason positions of parking administrator and in a nursing house were also not an option for him.

This led the DWI to cut the man's welfare by a one-time sum of 200 euro.

The man objected to the decision. The Amsterdam resident thinks that he never refused anything and that moreover, they're making an indirect distinction between religions.

His objection was rejected by the municipality, and so he turned to the courts.

The court agreed with the municipality. The judge said that the Amsterdam resident did refuse to cooperate.

If he wants to get welfare, he has to meet the obligations that go with it, according to the court. The court that the request to shorten his beard in order to work as a guard, is not that far-reaching in this context that it can't be asked from the man.

The same goes for shaking hands with female colleagues and customers. The freedom to act and appear as one wants should be respected, but is limited the minute it leads to major restrictions to entering the job market.

Source: Parool (Dutch)

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