Muslim youth are not the only ones who might prefer not going wild. Christian russ (Kruss) also celebrate high school graduation without alcohol or sex. Having values, such as not getting drunk, can sometimes mean having to make a sacrifice to uphold them.
"Mariam" says that already in her second year in high school, friends and classmates started getting ready for russ, the graduation celebrations.
The meetings and the secrecy all gave her a foretaste of how lonely graduating 13 years of school is going to be. The 18 year old now says that it was exactly as she had expected.
She is the only one in her class who is not a russ. Everybody in school go around with a russ suit, laugh at each other's mistakes and debauchery and speak of how much fun it was to drive about the night before. She feels very much excluded because she isn't participating in what everybody else is doing. She doesn't know how act towards her friends and classmates since she feels she has nothing in common with them these days.
Every day she gets questions which just intensify the feeling that she's excluded from a great fellowship. Whether she's going to Tryvann for the weekend or whether she's been out the night before. When she answers 'no' the conversation ends. She has nothing more to talk about. Even if she's bought a russ suit, she doesn't get to go to any events. She feels just stupid going about with it without doing anything. She's just waiting till russ time is over.
She's not the only one. There are many Norwegian young Muslims who ask the same question: does it conflict with their Muslim values to be russ? For many the answer is yes.
Jon Håkon Schultz says that the large amounts of alcohol drunk during russ actively exclude many youth, especially those with Muslim background. Last year he finished his doctorate about how Norwegian russ parties hinder integration of Muslim youth in Norway.
Four girls and four boys were followed in the period before, during and after russ. They had prepared themselves to take part in the festivities and and bought various russ equipment.
But because none of the girls wanted to drink alcohol, they felt they couldn't take part. The boys did take part because they drank more alcohol than they were used to.
Schultz says that the Koran says not to drink alcohol and more Muslim youth follow that. Therefore many are excluded from the russ celebrations. Alternatively they can drink to be integrated, as the boys in the study, but those who do so have conscience pangs towards their mother, father and God. In the worst case they also risk being ecxluded from their family and environment.
He says that they choose to drink because they feel pressured.
Behavior during russ also adds to barring Muslim youth. The race for russ knots such as having sex outdoors and other expectations have too high a cost.
According to Schultz parents of Muslim youth are skeptical about the russ lifestyle and they can deny their children from taking part in it.
This has been Arijeta Ismani's experience. She is Muslim and last year went to Sogn high school. She did not get permission from her parents to be russ. They didn't want her to join because they were concerned about everything that happens, especially regarding drinking and being with boys. They were afraid she would be pressured to do something she didn't want to.
For Muslim youth such as Arijeta and "Mariam" the feeling of being outsiders will pass once russ time is over. But there Muslim colleagues who would rather drink and be integrated risk being rejected from another direction. The choice can have serious consequences.
Schultz thinks that Norwegian youth allow themselves to drink a lot of alcohol, smoke hash and swallow so many ecstasy pills as they want, as long as they stop once russ is over. The russ suit gives them an amnesty. But for Muslim youth this is not the case. when they first drink and are discovered, they're in the process of burning all bridges to their family and environment. It's difficult to come back again.
Source: NRK 1, 2 (Norwegian)