Woman denied French citizenship for 'refusing to shake official's hand'

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Woman denied French citizenship for 'refusing to shake official's hand'
Photo: AFP

A woman was denied French nationality after refusing to shake hands with officials during the official citizenship ceremony, it has been reported this week.


The Algerian woman was attending the official ceremony in Isere south east France after her successfully applying for citizenship via her marriage to a French national.

But she “expressly refused to shake hands with the secretary-general of the prefecture and another local official”, according to a case heard by France's highest court the Conseil d'Etat (State Council) that was published on the French government's justice website LegiFrance.

The woman claims her actions at the ceremony in Isère, eastern France in June 2016 were “motivated by her religious convictions”.

The then-prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve opposed the woman’s request for French nationality claiming “her act meant that she could not be considered as integrated into the French community”.

French nationality is not granted until the end of the reception ceremony, or cérémonie d’accueil dans la nationalité française, when a certificate is awarded to the newly-declared French citizen.

During the ceremony, the applicant must “demonstrate their respect of French values”, according to a report in Le Figaro.

“If a foreign citizen shows a lack of integration, the government can reject their request for French nationality, even the day of their French citizenship reception ceremony,” explained lawyer Fayçal Megherbi on the blog Juritravail.

The woman, whose husband is French, opposed the decision, but a legal ruling published on Wednesday 11th April stated that there had been no breach of her religious freedom.

The Conseil d'Etat ruled that the behavior of the woman "revealed a lack of assimilation", all the more because it had been carried out "in a symbolic moment and place."

France naturalised 120,000 people in the year 2016, which represented the fourth consecutive year that France has seen an increase in the number of nationalisations.

Around half of these 120,000 passports came via naturalisation, while some 21,000 came via marriage to a French person.

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The Council of State, on April 11, 2018, considered that the behavior of the interested party "revealed a lack of assimilation", all the more because it had been carried out "in a place and at a symbolic moment" .



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