13 September 2016

Strong reactions in Norway to hijab discrimination verdict

The 10,000 kroner fine given to a Norwegian hairdresser for turning away a Muslim client wearing a headscarf has led to varied reactions in the Nordic country.

The Jæren District Court ruled on Monday that Merete Hodne, a hairdresser in the small southwestern Norwegian town of Byrne, “deliberately discriminated” against Malika Bayan when she denied her service last year.

The 47-year-old hairdresser intends to appeal the decision, which has generated strong reactions in Norway.

The nation’s equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman called the verdict an important victory for religious freedom.

“The important thing is that you've got a decision and a conviction that states that it is not acceptable to refuse service to someone because of the person's religion or believes. The verdict upholds the freedom of religion in Norway,” ombudsman Hanne Bjurstrøm told NTB.

Hodne had defended turning Bayan away by saying that she views the the headscarf as a political symbol representing an ideology that frightens her, rather than as a religious symbol. She said she “completely freaked out” when Bayan and her friend entered the hair salon wearing hijabs last October. [The Local] Read more