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Man gets payout for not shaking woman’s hand

A town in western Sweden has agreed to pay damages to a man who was told he wouldn't be hired if he refused to shake a woman's hand for religious reasons.

Man gets payout for not shaking woman's hand

The decision by officials in Trollhättan to pay the man 30,000 kronor ($4,500) means the municipality won’t have to face a review of the case by Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen).

The incident stemmed from an office visit by a man who had been offered an internship with the integration division at Trollhättan municipality.

When the man was set to meet a female supervisor at the office, he refused to shake her hand, explaining his religion forbade him from shaking hands with women unless he washed his hands directly afterwards.

The female supervisor then reportedly told the man that he could not intern at the office if he was not comfortable shaking everybody’s hand. She also allegedly added that the office had hand sanitizer that he could use.

While the incident was later reported to the Equality Ombudsman, the national office that investigates suspected cases of discrimination, the case was settled before the ombudsman began its investigation, with Trollhättan municipality choosing to pay damages to the man.

“The intern candidate explained that his religion forbade him from shaking the hand of a woman he did not know,” municipal spokesman Said Niklund told the TTELA newspaper.

“By law, a person who feels they’ve been disadvantaged because of their religion has a right to damages. We made a mistake, we took responsibility for it, and the person was compensated.”

The incident has reportedly had repercussions at the workplace, however, damaging the morale among the staff at Trollhättan’s integration division. An investigation into the workplace environment is under way.

The leader of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats said on Saturday the party planned to report the municipality to the Ombudsman for Justice (Justitieombudsmannen, JO), stating that “equality is more important than multiculturalism”.

“This case is extremely upsetting… it is absurd and makes a mockery of equality and Swedish values,” party leader Jimmie Åkesson said in a statement.

TT/The Local/at

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CRIME

Police in Sweden block Danish extremist’s new demo

Police in western Sweden have rejected an appeal by the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan against a decision to deny him permission for a Koran-burning protest in Borås.

Police in Sweden block Danish extremist's new demo

“Rasmus Paludan has a rhetoric which is intended to create disorder and chaos,” Emelie Kullmyr, the police officer in charge of protecting this year’s General Election in Western Sweden, said in a press release.

“We have seen how the public has been exposed to serious danger and police officers have been injured. The task of the police is to ensure security and we will do that, but all positive forces need to be helped to maintain peace and order.” 

In the press release, the police emphasised the importance of the public’s right to demonstrate and express their opinions freely, but said that the right to hold public demonstrations could still be curtailed in “exceptional cases”. 

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Paludan, who aimed to hold the demonstration on April 29th, can now appeal the police’s decision at the local civil court in Borås. 

He has now applied to hold on May 1st rallies in Uppsala and Stockholm for his far-right party Stram Kurs, or “Hard Line”. 

Koran-burning demonstrations held over the Easter holidays in the cities of Norrköping, Linköping, Malmö, Örebro, and in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby, led to the worst riots Sweden has seen in decades, with 100 police officers injured.

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