As the world changes its demographics, it becomes increasingly more common for Muslim women to be found in climes that historically were not their destination. A reporter for the Finnish newspaper, Sanomat, decided to experiment by wandering around Helsinki dressed in a niqab, the conservative face covering worn by some Muslim women. She noted how some men stared intently at her and the gaze of one “nearly burned a hole in the chiffon.” Ironically, due to the niqab she stumbled into a man who turned out to be an Arab and was then greeted with kind words and great respect. While on the metro, a drunk shouted, “Hey, that is one hell of a sight” to his fellow drunkards.
A Somali woman told her it was common for Muslim women in Finland to wear brightly covered scarves and urged that she not wear black. A young man almost spilled his drink at the sight of a woman wearing a niqab. She went to a park and sat on a bench. A family with two boys approached and one of the little boys began to shout in terror at the sight of a black covered face.
The good news is that cosmetologist and hair stylists made it a point not to bother her while she wandered the streets of Helsinki in search of reactions to the niqab.