Sometimes personal beliefs may cause you a great amount of trouble and should be kept private. On Thursday, Norway saw its first trial over the Islamic head garment, after a Norwegian hairdresser reportedly refused a Muslim client wearing a hijab.
In October last year, Merete Hodne rejected Malika Bayan from her hairdressing salon in Bryne, a small town in southwestern Norway. Now, Merete Hodne is facing a prison sentence of up to six months for religious discrimination, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK reported.
According to the charges, Bayan, who was going to have her hair dyed, was advised to find someplace else, because Hodne reportedly said “she did not accept clients like her.” Previously, the wayward hairdresser refused to pay a fine of 8,000 kroner (roughly $980) for religious discrimination, which is why the case ended up in Jæren District Court. Police officials want to raise the fine to 9,600 kroner (roughly $1,080) and will seek a jail sentence of 19 days if Hodne refuses to pay up.
In court, Hodne argued that the case was about politics, not religion. She stated that she would also have rejected a person with a Ku-Klux-Klan robe, or a person with Nazi symbols. In one of her Facebook posts, Hodne claimed the hijab to be a “symbol for the totalitarian ideology of Mohammedanism,” which was supposedly “a death cult worse than Nazism.”
“I was totally freaked out. I was frightened. The hijab is for me a totalitarian symbol, a symbol of extremism as well. I feel bad when I see people in hijabs,” Hodne told NRK.
Fourty-seven-year-old Hodne, who was described by Norwegian media as a former activist in anti-Islam movements such as Norwegian Defense League, Sian and Pegida, said that accepting a hijab-clad woman in her salon would have meant scaring off potential clientele through being forced to turn away male customers. In accordance with Islamic teaching, a woman is unable to uncover her hair with men present.
Council for the Defense, Linda Ellefsen Eide, concurred by claiming that Bayan put Hodne in a difficult situation. Had Hodne accepted Boyan, she would have been forced to have closed the salon for male customers, thus discriminating them. The ‘hijab case’ triggered a lively response in Norway, with Hodne’s backers no longer being content with leaving irate comments on the Internet. Norwegian broadcaster NRK reported that cars in its parking lot were decorated with flyers referring to Hodne as “Viking girl” and “a champion of the freedom of all Norwegian women.”
Earlier this week, Norwegian newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported that the judge in Hodne’s trial had received e-mail threats with clear references to the case.
“Muslims will soon be expelled from Norway. Make sure you don’t end up thrown out with them,” one of the e-mails read.