That's exactly what a Canadian student set out to test. She decided to wear a hijab in public to see if she would be treated differently. And she found that, when pretending to be a Muslim, she was treated better by strangers, not worse.
Anisa Rawhani, a third-year student at Queens University in Ontario, wore the traditional Muslim garb for 18 days in January as she worked at the university's library, visited stores and restaurants near the campus and as she did volunteer work with local children.
According to Rawhani - who conducted the experiment to see if people in her community were racist towards minority groups - she noticed that people actually treated her more kindly and with more respect than when she didn't wear the hijab.
'At first I thought I was just imagining things. There's no way this is actually happening,' Rawhani told the Whig.com.
'I went with my hijab and people were very nice, people were polite, parents would shake my hand, so the experience was all across the board in Kingston.'
In some cases, she says, she would go out with friends who weren't wearing any identifying religious symbols and she was treated much nicer than they were.
'There was this excess (of niceness) that I would experience that I couldn't account for,' she said. 'Like really going the extra mile like smiling broadly and being so so polite, which I've never experienced before. It was a stark contrast that was going on that threw me for a loop.' (Continue Reading.)