A Norwegian woman in her 30s has been handed a suspended jail term of 14 days and fined NOK 10,000 for repeatedly calling two men from Gambia “neger” (negro) and “jævla nigger” (goddamned nigger) when she encountered them in a kebab restaurant in Porsgrunn, Telemark County. The incident, which occurred in 2015, has led to a new interpretation of Norwegian laws against discrimination and hatred.
State broadcaster NRK reported that it took time for the case to get into court this spring because police initially dropped their investigation. When the men targeted by the defendant’s verbal attack complained, the probe resumed and prosecutors ultimately indicted the woman.
She claimed she was “only joking” with the men, when she sat at a table next to theirs and asked “what’s up, nigger?” They were offended, but she only continued to hurl the words at them, ultimately setting off a fight with others in the restaurant who also objected to her language and defended the two men. Lamin Samateh, who emigrated from Gambia and lives in Porsgrunn, called police and when they arrived, three women and two men were involved in the fight.
The defendant testified that she did not mean to be racist and that the words she used were “neutral” in her “hip-hop” milieu, prompting her to ignore the men’s objections to both her words and her tone. She claimed she had no prejudice towards people with another skin color.
Samateh was satisfied with the judge’s decision that the woman’s remarks were “hateful and discriminating.” He said the ruling was important for future generations, including his own daughter now growing up in Norway. “I think the sentence was good, and it must get people to learn and become better,” he told NRK. The woman has appealed, with her defense attorney calling the suspended jail sentence and fine “too strict.”