NORWAY: In September, hairdresser Merete Hodne was by Jæren district court sentenced for discrimination after she refused a woman wearing hijab entry to her hair saloon. The case is the first of its kind in Norway. Hodne appealed the verdict and the appeal proceedings began today.
As appeal proceedings began Tuesday, she stood firm that she sees hijab as a political symbol.
The prosecutor, Attorney Asbjørn Eritsland, asked Tuesday that the hairdresser gets NOK 10,000 in fines after refusing hijab-clad Malika Bayan, a convert, access to the hair salon that she owns in Bryne, writes Stavanger Aftenblad. Hodne was in jæren district court in September ordered to pay the same sum for discrimination, but appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The hairdresser's lawyer, Linda Ellefsen Eide, asked that Hodne is acquitted.
- If the court is in doubt if Hodne has rejected Bayan because she believed the hijab was a political garment or a religious garment, she must be acquitted. Then the doubt must come to the benefit of my client, she said.
Compared hijab to IS-flag
When the appeal hearings began in Gulating Court of Appeal, Hodne described herself as a critic of Mohammedans, still claiming that it were not for religious reasons that she refused to accept Bayan as a customer in October 2015.
- To me hijab is the same as an ISIS flag. Hijab is a political symbol. Basically, one can not know if the person underneath (the hijab) is a Mohammedan or someone who believes that it is God who has decided to wear this garment, said Hodne, according to Stavanger Aftenblad.
The defense had put in place a new witness, a man from Time municipality at Jæren, who apparently overheard Malika Bayan being instructed to seek out Hodnes hair salon.
- In central Bryne stood five or six people, and I overheard them saying that "now you should do this and that and go up to Hodne." As I understood it, they planned it there and then, the witness explained.
The man explained that he first became aware of what he had overheard when he read about the case in the newspaper. Bayan rejected the man's accusations when she testified before the Court of Appeal, arguing the visit at Hodne simply was not planned.
A verdict in the Gulating Court of Appeal comes January 11th, but Hodne has already said she will appeal the case further if she loses again.
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