Norway’s contentious ’hijab case’ to go to Supreme Court
Norwegian hairdresser Merete Hodne announced on Tuesday that she will appeal her discrimination conviction to the nation’s highest court.
Hodne was hit with a 10,000 kroner fine in September for turning Malika Bayan away from her hair salon in Bryne, a small town in southwestern Norway, in October 2015. Although the 47-year-old hairdresser avoided a prison-sentence, she filed an immediate appeal against the decision on the grounds that the hijab is a political, not a religious symbol.
The Gulating Court of Appeal ruled against Hodne earlier this month but did agree to lower the fine to 7,000 kroner and absolve her from having to cover court costs.
The appeals court reduced the fine after saying it "cannot be entirely ruled out that the victim visited the salon to see how the defendant would react."
Bayan, 24, has denied that she visited Hodne’s salon as a deliberate provocation.
Now the hairdresser wants to take the case to the Supreme Court of Norway. The Supreme Court’s appeals committee will first have to decide whether the court should hear the case, NRK reported.
Hodne has not denied the fact that she refused to provide services to Bayan, but has argued that her decision was not a result of religious discrimination but rather due to her belief that the hijab is a political symbol. She has compared the head garment to both “an Isis flag” and a Nazi swastika.
While Norway’s equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman has called the discrimination verdict an important victory for religious freedom, the case has split public opinion.
Some have argued that the verdict was a result of Hodne’s background as a former activist in anti-Islamist movements such as Pegida.