Hijab sparks hatred

Labor’s (Ap) Sahfana M. Ali became the target of harassment after uploading a photo of her bunad with specially made hijab

Photo: Erik Waage / NRK Sahfana M. Ali in her bunad.

Photo: Erik Waage / NRK
Sahfana M. Ali in her bunad.

Sarah Bostock & Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

Politician Sahfana M. Ali visited Embla Costume Makers in western Norway’s Stavanger on June 18 to try her new national costume (bunad) from Rogaland County with a specially made hijab to suit.

Posting a photograph of herself in the Frafjord pattern garment alongside the shop owner, both Ali and the shop were subjected to racist comments shortly afterwards.

Profiled Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) supporter Merete Hodne had shared the same picture on her Facebook wall. Regional publication Stavanger Aftenblad also reported that Hodne encouraged people to boycott the shop.

In her post, Hodne accused the parties of making “a mockery” of the Norwegian culture. Derogatory comments included references to Muslims and animals and telling Ali to “go home”—which was preceded by an expletive. Another declared that Ali “would not become a Norwegian just by changing clothes.” Threats were made as well.

The politician, who is originally from Sri Lanka, has stated to Stavanger Aftenblad that she has lived in Norway’s oil capital for the majority of her life. “I’m just as much from Norway as I am from Sri Lanka. I am married to a Norwegian man and I have children, all of whom are born in Norway,” she said. The bunad is a gift from her husband.

Both Ali and Embla shop-owner Marianne Lambersøy have reported the hate speech matter to police. Using a privately owned photo without consent is also included in the complaint.

“There’s to be zero tolerance for these types of remarks,” the politician told the publication.

Facebook deleted the photo posted to Merete Hodne’s page, but the issue was still being debated on right extremist internet forums as of June 20.

The Pegida supporter did not wish to comment to Stavanger Aftenblad.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the July 1, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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