Norway: New hijab wearer sues for discrimination

Norway: New hijab wearer sues for discrimination

Allowing hijab at work is usually couched in terms of enabling immigrant women to work.  However, in two recent cases, the women in question had taken up wearing a hijab recently, one quite recently.  Maybe it is not surprising: women who wear a hijab for traditional reasons are more likely to be traditional in every aspect of their lives.  Women who take it up in order to make a statement, would go out of their way to ensure they make an impact.


Fouzia Tanveer (20) was denied a job at a 7-Eleven because she wears a hijab.  Tanveer is now turning to the Equality and Discrimination Ombudsman.

Such cases come up every so often, and I did not see this one as unusual, except for one issue: Tanveer started wearing a hijab the day before she started working.

She came to her job interview without a headscarf, and at that time she never wore a headscarf before.  She tried it on in the shop and didn't feel like taking it off.  When she came to work, she asked one of the employees if she could wear a hijab.  The employee called his boss, the same guy who interviewed her, who said she should take it off.  Tanveer says she asked just to be certain, but didn't expect a negative response.  She doesn't think it's relevant how long she's been going with a hijab.

She says it's now part of her identity.  She read that 7-Elven support free choice and she doesn't understand why they don't respect hers.  She says she not taking up the issue because she wants her job back.  She says she's doing it for other girls who wear a hijab and want to work.


A recent hijab case which hit the headlines was that of Algerian-Norwegian Keltoum Hasnaoui Missoum (24).  Missoum asked the police directorate whether she can wear a hijab with her uniform. The directorate answered yes, and caused a political storm.

Missoum was also new to wearing the hijab, though according to various interviews, she had been wearing it on and off for several years.  She used to work in airport security in 2006-2007, and according to co-workers was Norwegian both in dress and in character.  She never wore a hijab, either at work or elsewhere.  As part of her job she conducted body searches of both men and women without any problems.

Missoum says that two and a half years ago she decided to wear a hijab, just after she stopped working in airport security.  She says that she's always been a Muslim but more recently she decided to take her religion more seriously than, and that included wearing a hijab. She asked whether she could wear a hijab there but was told she couldn't.  When she started off in the police academy, she was encouraged to check whether she could wear the hijab with her uniform.

According to an earlier interview, she started wearing a hijab in 2003, a couple of years after she came to Norway, took it off due to her job and then later decided it was here to stay.  She says never expected it to become such a headline making story.

Sources: Dagsavisen, Rogalands Avis (Norwegian), Aftenbladet (English), h/t Bivouac-ID

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