August 13, 2015

Journalistic experiment: what means to be a Muslim in Lithuania

The second day: going to the state institution

On the second day of the experiment we started out to the city again. We decided to visit a state institution – we called in Vilnius Territorial Health Insurance Fund to change European Health Insurance Card, entitling to free emergency medical assistance abroad, due to its expired validity term. We chose the state institution totally random.

Just entering the institution we get to feel directed glances of the security worker on duty at the entrance and later – glances of people waiting at the reception. We get to print necessary coupon with the queue number and get to sit.

copertinaOur turn comes soon and Giedrė, wearing a long black gown and covering her face with niqab, moves towards the servicing officer. The employee looks neither confused nor surprised. She gives a form to be filled in for a new card to us and asks to provide an identity card. Then she stands up and turns aside somewhere for a few minutes.

After some time the officer comes back and politely asks: “Excuse me, could you please show your face to me to prove your identity?“. I do not start dispute and just say that wearing a veil is required by my religion. The employee also answers politely that she understands it but adds that it should not matter if I uncover my face to the woman.

“I can slightly turn aside“, – offers the employee, making possibility for me to unclose my face not to be seen by other people in the premise. When I lift the veil for a while, the employee thanks me and after a moment gives over my requested document – a new European Health Insurance Card.

I must admit that such subtle conduct of the officer of the Health Insurance Fund pleasantly surprised me. Even though it is likely that similar situations are not frequent in this institution, the officer did not get confused, behaved politely and respectfully. Such service indeed could be evaluated in ten points.

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