Swiss court fines Muslim man for blocking daughters' swimming lessons


A Muslim father was fined in Switzerland on Wednesday for refusing to allow his daughters to take swimming lessons at school, in the latest case exposing the challenges of integration in the Alpine country.

The unnamed 40-year-old man was ordered to pay 4,000 Swiss francs ($4,000, 3,700 euros), the ATS news agency said in a report. He had also refused to allow his daughters to go to camps and other school events, insisting they ran counter to his religious beliefs.

The Altstaetten district court in the north-eastern Swiss canton of St. Gallen found the father guilty of among other things violating the law on obligatory schooling and of disobeying previous orders by the authorities, ATS reported.

The court reached its verdict after the father appealed a previous ruling faulting him last December.

The prosecutor had requested that the man be sentenced to four months behind bars, in addition to a fine, maintaining that the Bosnian national who has been living in Switzerland since 1990 had resisted integration and had no respect for Swiss legislation.

The family has reportedly been in conflict with the local authorities for years.

Last year, the parents were sentenced by a lower court for refusing to allow their daughters go to school unless they were permitted to wear an Islamic veil. But the country's highest court overturned that verdict, ruling that the eldest girl should be allowed to wear the veil to school in the name of freedom of religion.

Wednesday's ruling came after a high-profile case involving Muslim pupils refusing to shake hands with their female teachers caused uproar across Switzerland.

Last month, the northern Swiss canton of Basel country reversed one middle school's controversial decision to grant exemptions for two Muslim pupils unwilling to shake hands with teachers of the opposite sex and threatened hefty fines for those who refused to toe the line.    (AFP)

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