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Want to be Danish? You'd better shake hands
Afghan-born Sakandar Khan, was one of nine new Danish citizens who on Thursday (January 17) shook hands with Denmark's immigration minister under a new law that makes a handshake the final step in the naturalisation process. For Khan, who fled Afghanistan with his family in 2001, shaking the hand of the minister, who happens to be female, was not a problem. But the law has been criticised for breaching freedom of religion, as some observant Muslims and Jews avoid touching unrelated members of the opposite sex. The government says the handshake is an important part of Danish culture and values, and anyone that refuses can not become Danish. The handshake ceremony will be performed by mayors and deputy mayors of the municipalities where immigrants live. Denmark's parliament last year banned wearing the Islamic burqa and niqab in public and approved a plan to hold foreign criminals on a tiny island, despite criticism from the United Nations and Human rights group Amnesty International. Denmark, with a population of 5.7 million, accepted just 45,000 asylum seekers between 2014 and 2017. Its southern neighbour Germany accepted more than 1.6 million, while Sweden, with about twice Denmark's population, took in nearly 300,000. After the ceremony, Khan and the other eight new Danish citizens joined immigration minister Stojberg in a separate room for drinks and snacks.