A Muslim woman this week became the first female bus driver in Komotini, a city in Thrace which has long been home to a sizable community of Greek Muslims.
Twenty-two year old Neslihan Kiose was trained as a vehicle instructor in Thessaloniki — the only woman among fifteen men, as she says — and after a trial period in her hometown she was hired by the local municipal bus company.
“I do not have a problem with young people. But the older ones at first were afraid to get into the bus when they saw me at the wheel. But after a few days, they started trusting me and showing love and affection,” she tells local news website xronos.gr.
Fueled by her love of driving, Kiose says she is not intimidated by the disparaging comments she sometimes receives from other drivers, and insists she will not stop doing this job.
Kiose’s first contact with driving was at a very young age and the first vehicle she drove was her father’s. “Yes, I drove it without having a license,” she admits sheepishly.
The bus conductor says that her father was very supportive when she decided to take up professional driving, especially when she decided to choose bus driving. Her mother was more cautious and feared for her daughter’s security, but she was eventually convinced as well.
Her ultimate goal, she reveals, is to have her own driving school in Komotini.
Most of the Muslim community in Greece resides in the Greek region of Thrace, where they make up 28.88 percent of the population.
Muslims form the largest population group (54.77 percent) in the Rhodope regional unit, where Komotini is the capital, and they comprise sizable percentages in the Xanthi (42.19 percent) and Evros (6.65 percent) regional units of Greece as well.