Norway: Newsreader banned from wearing cross

Siv Kristin Saellmann with her cross

Newsreaders on Norwegian state TV are banned from wearing crosses, it seems.

NRK's dress code discouraging journalists from wearing jewellery "with religious or political significance" came to light after viewers complained about a gold cross necklace studded with black diamonds worn by Siv Kristin Saellmann, who reports on southern Norway. The reaction apparently prompted regional editor Anders Sarheim to tell her not to wear it again. Saellmann complied but told the Local online newspaper: "I don't like people out there just being able to call in and tell my boss what I should or shouldn't wear." Saellmann is a Christian but says she wore the cross - a gift from her husband - as a fashion item.

Sarheim made clear the dress code in regional newspaper Vart Land but some commentators condemned NRK's reaction as excessive for a predominantly Christian country. Media pundit Sven Egil Omdal said banning the cross was like "using a cannon to shoot sparrows". Meanwhile right-wing politician Vidar Kleppe asked how a small cross could be "so big and provocative" for NRK, when Norwegian soldiers are allowed to wear turbans and the Muslim hjiab. But NRK news chief Per Arne Kalbakk stands by the ban, saying: "Newsreaders need to appear neutral."

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