Authorities in Basel have denied two sisters, aged 12 and 14 a Swiss passport because they refused to participate in school swimming lessons and residential camps on religious grounds.
Speaking to the broadcaster, Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalization committee involved in the decision, said young people wishing to become Swiss citizens must prove they are meeting the requirements of the Swiss education system.
Since swimming lessons are compulsory in Basel’s schools – and in many other places in Switzerland including Zurich and Bern – failing to attend means a student is not meeting requirements.
“Whoever doesn’t fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalized,” Wehrle said.
Swiss courts have previously refused the pleas of several Muslim families to exempt their children from swimming lessons, saying integration comes before religion.
And authorities in Basel have dished out fines to the parents of Muslim children who refuse to participate in swimming lessons.
However this is the first time a citizenship application has been refused on such grounds, making it a case that could set a precedent in the canton, said the broadcaster. thelocal