France: An Algerian woman deny nationality for refusing to shake hands

In France, a young Algerian woman was denied naturalization after 8-years for not shaking a hand.

A story that makes you wonder. Indeed, in France, a young Algerian woman married to a French since 2010 has sought to obtain the nationality of his adopted country. Very quickly, she realizes that she filled the boxes and the day of her official naturalization arrives. However, things will not happen as we planned.

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.

Refusing to shake hands with the representative of the prefecture in charge of the ceremony, it attracts the wrath of the state. The Council of State, the highest French court, is seized and looks into the situation.

Very quickly, she will invoke article 21-4 of the Civil Code, “the government may oppose […] for indignity or lack of assimilation other than linguistic acquisition of French nationality by the foreign spouse in a period of two years”.

“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.

Indeed, according to justice, the fact of not shaking hands with a representative of the state is similar to “non-assimilation”.

As a result, she was denied naturalization even though she tried to explain her gesture through her religious convictions.

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