Swedish politician quits after refusing to shake women's hands

Yasri Khan ignited a storm of controversy after refusing to shake hands with a female reporter

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A Swedish Green Party politician, who ignited a storm of controversy after refusing to shake hands with a female reporter on grounds that it violated his Muslim faith, announced on Wednesday that he was quitting politics.

Yasri Khan is the second Muslim Green Party politician to resign in acrimony this week.

During an interview with a female reporter from TV4 on Tuesday, Khan placed his hand over his heart instead of shaking her hand in greeting.

“People can greet each other in different ways. The most important thing is to show respect by seeing each other, to meet each other ... to respect each other,” Khan said during an interview with state broadcaster Swedish Radio.

Khan, also the general secretary of the organisation Swedish Muslims for Peace and Justice, has faced strong criticism from within his party since the incident.

“It is unacceptable. You can’t have a man in the party who can’t greet women in the same way you greet a man. I’m upset,” Stina Bergstrom, a Green Party parliamentarian, told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

In an article published by the news website Nyheter24, Khan lashed out at his critics but did not specifically say why he was resigning.

“In today’s political climate, I wonder if politics is right for me, and if I want to be a media circus clown,” he said.

Earlier this week, former housing minister Mehmet Kaplan, a Muslim of Turkish origin, resigned from government after media published old footage of him making controversial remarks about Israel’s politics towards Palestinians.