Though I feel the exemption is an example of regressive thinking it is encouraging that there is apparently a great deal of outrage toward the school for implementing it.
The boys had told the school in the small, northern town of Therwil it was against their faith to touch a woman outside their family.
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said shaking hands was part of Swiss culture and daily life.
A local teachers’ union said the exemption discriminated against women.
The case has propelled Therwil, a town of 10,000 people in the Basel-Country canton, to the centre of a national debate about Swiss identity. A similar case has been reported elsewhere in the region.
Christian Amsler, head of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education, suggested that the school may have tried to get an “unpleasant problem out of the way” but had simply made a mistake.
There has been little support for the school’s decision to grant special dispensation to the boys, who are 14 and 15 and have lived in Switzerland for several years.
Therwil Mayor Reto Wolf said the community was unhappy with the decision taken by the school, which is run by the local canton.
“In our culture and in our way of communication a handshake is normal and sends out respect for the other person, and this has to be brought [home] to the children in school,” he told the BBC.
Read the whole story at the BBC