OSLO: Norway hit a hairdresser with a roughly 1,000-euro fine on Monday after she was convicted of discrimination for turning away a Muslim client wearing a headscarf.
Merete Hodne had risked up to six months in prison for religious discrimination for turning Malika Bayan away from her hair salon in Bryne, a small town in southwestern Norway, in October last year.
“The court… has no doubt that the defendant acted intentionally, that she deliberately discriminated against Bayan by expelling her from the salon because she is Muslim,” the court ruled.
It imposed a fine of 11,000 kroner (1,075 euros/$1,200) and also ordered her to pay 5,000 kroner in court costs.
Hodne intends to appeal the decision, her lawyer told news agency NTB.
The 47-year-old hairdresser had told the court she saw the headscarf as a political symbol representing an ideology that frightens her, rather than as a religious symbol.
“I see it as a totalitarian symbol. When I see a hijab, I don’t think of religion, but of totalitarian ideologies and regimes,” she told the judges, cited by daily Verdens Gang.
According to the charge sheet, Hodne told Bayan “she would have to find someplace else because she didn’t accept (clients) like her”.
The hairdresser initially refused to pay a fine of 8,000 kroner for religious discrimination, and the case therefore went before the Jaeren district court on Thursday.
While Hodne acknowledged that she could have turned Bayan, 24, away more courteously, she denied the charge of religious discrimination.