In the middle of July, the three of us were transferred from Refstad camp to Torshov reception camp for newly arrived refugees. We were so happy to stay in Oslo. We were all born and raised in cities with millions of inhabitants. Oslo gave the impression to be a big city as we were used to.
In Torshov we were accommodated in rooms together with eight other men. It was not so much of a privacy, but we were happy and felt safe. During the days we did not have so much to do, so there were a lot of discussions about Norway and the way of living. Halal and Haram was a favourite theme. Halal refers to what is allowed in the Quran, the laws of Sharia. Haram tells what is not allowed. An example is about eating pork, that is Haram. If a man eat pork, can means he break the Sharia and break the family’s honour. Another example is if his sister has sex before marriage, she breaks the Sharia and it is allowed to kill her and her boyfriend. In Syria we have an expression “To put your nose in another man’s doing”. For me that means some of the Muslims put their nose in my food because I eat pork. To be sure I must tell that not all Muslims thinking like that, but it feels hard when some tells me I am breaking the laws. Another theme that often became in discussion was homosexuality. Some of the men had seen men holding hands in the street and kissing openly. They condemned this behaviour and said this bringing shame of their families and is Haram. I felt I had to pretend as I was heterosexual, because some expressions felt for me threatening. When that kind of discussion was the subject, I tried to pretend I was occupied with other things to do.
I am a Christian. Many of the men in the camp were Muslims and excused IS, the terrorist organization. Some said that it was good that IS killed Christians that believe in the unity of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, these Christians is mentioned as Koffar. They too supported the destruction of their churches and the draft of Christians out of Syria. This was for me very hard to listen to, but I avoided any kind of arguments against them. One man in my room always used his phone to listen to a loudly reading from the Quran. For me very disturbing to listen to. I wanted him to use headphones, not force all of us to listen. Another man told that when he was settled in Norway he wanted to change the laws, so he could marry four wives. In all respect, I will say that not all Muslims agreed with these men.
Another thing that was hard for me was when we discussed the conflict in Syria. Most of us agreed that Bashar Al-Assad is a criminal. In the camp there were many nationalities, mostly from the Middle East. Bashar, his father Hafez and Saddam Hussein was compared as dictators. But some of the Sunni Muslims said that they were sorry that Saddam was dead and looked at him as a hero. When I argued that he killed a lot of Kurdish, they denied that. They also denied the religion of the Alawites, the religion of the family Al-Assad. The Alawites are mostly located in the Mediterranean coastline of Syria and around the area of Homs in Syria.
The immigration office, UDI, was really working fast and I was waiting for my first interview. During waiting for the interview, I was chatting with other gays in social networks. This is channels especially for gays who wants contact with other gays. Usually people showed picture of themselves, but I was so afraid and made a profile without showing my face. Sometimes I got in touch with men that seemed interesting for me. I too learned something of the Norwegian way of living. Because many of the men I was in contact with told in their profile they were living in Oslo. But if I asked them to meet, many were traveling. Some in big cities, some to the southern part of Europe and some in their cottage by the ocean. Now I know that most Norwegian are traveling some place in the summer time.
I met some men, but it never became any relationship. I learned through the social media that gay men were very focused on anal sex, dicks and naked bodies. I was looking for romance, kindness, kissing and love. My first love, the officer in the army, wanted us to wear our uniforms when we had sex. I liked that very much, I liked to feel his body under his uniform. I am not sure if this is a fetish or an ordinary attraction to the manhood. But nevertheless, mine attraction is not to the naked body, the anal or how other men’s dicks look like.
I became acquainted with a man that I felt comfortable with. He showed me around Oslo, I especially liked the Frogner park very much. This is a sculpture park that shows statues of humans in all situations, all of them naked. This man, I don’t say his name because I have not asked him about that, was very kind to me. We spoke in English and I got the chance to practise the language. Even if I learned English at school for fourteen years, I never got the chance to practise. I was never in contact with tourists or got any other chance to speak English in Syria.
I can say that he was my first boyfriend in Norway. We spent a great time together, he showed me many places in Oslo. Among them the London Pub, a bar only for gays. First time I went there, I was terrified. I was shivering and didn’t dare to look at all the men in the bar. This man also taught me a little Norwegian. Words as “I love you” and “I miss you”.
In August there were a multicultural festival in Oslo, called Oslo World Music Festival. In the camp we also celebrated this festival. We danced to Syrian music and had a great time with a lot of laughter and forgot all problems for a short while.
If we asked about what will happen, we always were told we had to be patient and wait. We were told that there was a lot of rules that couldn’t be changed. One of the rules was that refugees should be interviewed before the UDI made up their mind were to place us in temporary camps in Norway. The advantage of such camps was that we could get some money to spend, the disadvantage was that the waiting time was very long and stressful. Before I was interviewed, they changed their rules and they decided so transfer me to another camp before I was interviewed. Then I was placed in a camp in Levanger, a small town in the middle of Norway. I was sad about leaving Oslo, because I liked me there and had some friends there.
The time in Levanger I learned more about the Norwegian society and got many friends, sad to say that most of them lived in Oslo or Trondheim. This period I will write about in my next article.