A hairdresser who was slapped with a £900 fine by the courts after throwing a headbag-wearing Muslim woman out of her salon has appealed the ruling saying “the hijab is the same as an Isis flag.”
UK Express Merete Hodne was sentenced in September after refusing to serve Malika Bayan in her establishment in Byrne, south-west Norway, because she was wearing a hijab. Following the incident, which took place in October 2015, the 47-year-old businesswoman was reported to the police for religious discrimination.
The hairdresser was initially fined £800 by the authorities, but the activist, who has spent years campaigning against the “Mohammedanism of Europe”, refused to pay as she insisted it was a political issue, rather than a religious one.
In September the court ruled Hodne had discriminated against the 24-year-old Muslim by refusing service and hit her with the fine. The businesswoman risked six months in jail in addition to the fine, but despite escaping a jail sentence she appealed the ruling as she insisted she was fully within her rights to not colour the Ms Bayan’s hair.
On Tuesday the appeal was hear in court where Hodne made her latest inflammatory remarks. “To me the hijab is the same as an Isis flag. The hijab is a political symbol,” Hodne said according to Stavanger Aftenblat
Appealing the ruling in September, the hairdresser claimed the court was unduly influenced by her previous membership in an anti-Islam organization and on Tuesday her lawyer argued her client’s conviction should be overturned.
Linda Ellefsen Eide said: “If the court is in doubt about whether Hodne denied Bayan (below) because she thought the hijab is a political symbol or a religious symbol, she should be acquitted. The doubt should be in my client’s favour.”
A new witness, who was not present during the September trial, was also brought before the court. The male claimed he had heard a gang of people encouraging Ms Bayan to seek out the salon. “In central Bryne, there were five or six people and I overheard them say that ‘now you should do this and that and go up to Hodne’,” he told the court. “The way I understood it was that they planned it there and then.”
Ms Bayan disputed the claim immediately as she insisted the visit the establishment had not been planned in advance. Hodne has vowed to take the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if the Norwegian courts uphold her conviction for religious discrimination.