An appeals court in Western Norway upheld a lower court order on Friday in ruling that hairdresser Merete Hodne violated Norway’s anti-discrimination laws for refusing serve Malika Bayan, because Bayan was wearing a hijab.
Newspaper Stavanger Aftenbladet reported that the appeals court, however, reduced Hodne’s fine to NOK 7,000 and she was not ordered to pay court costs. “It’s going in the right direction now, with the fine reduced and I avoid court costs,” Hodne told state broadcaster NRK. “I feel a bit more believed, even though this is a very heated case.”
It stemmed from an incident in the fall of 2015, when Bayan, wearing her hijab, went into Hodne’s hair salon in the town of Bryne and asked what it would cost to dye her hair. Bayan testified that Hodne told her she “didn’t want to touch people like her.”
Hodne denies saying that and refused to pay a fine of NOK 8,000. The case then landed in court, where the fine was raised to NOK 10,000 plus court costs of NOK 5,000. She appealed and received a milder fine on Friday.
Hodne, who has called herself a “political activist,” has made no secret of her negative feelings towards Muslims and had said in court earlier this week that she views the hijab as a political symbol. The court viewed it as a religious symbol, and it’s illegal in Norway to discriminate on the basis of religion.