‘Tea parties’ aim to integrate

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More than a thousand residents of Oslo were participating this week in unusual “tea parties,” sponsored by a local organization dedicated to tackling racism. Muslim families and immigrants from Africa, for example, were opening their homes to ethnic Norwegians and simply inviting them in for tea.

“At our home, we always have room for more,” Karim Fariss told newspaper Aftenposten as the scent of newly baked muffins and Moroccan tea with peppermint wafted through her home at Bøler in Oslo.

Fariss’ Moroccan-Norwegian family was taking part in the initiative to bring more Norwegians and Muslims together. Norway’s Antirasistisk Senter is behind the project, which is also involving Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. They accepted invitations to tea on Thursday in the homes of immigrants around Oslo.

The goal is for Muslims and non-Muslims to get better acquainted. “This is a very good program, Fariss told Aftenposten. “Someone should have thought of doing this earlier.”

Kari Helene Partapuoli of the Antirasistisk Senter expected around 1,000 non-Muslims would visit Muslims during the course of the week. More than 50 host families had offered to open their homes. Among them was a man named Hussain, who said he was 41 years old and originally from Afghanistan but his family now lived in Pakistan. “I like to make food, I like my job and Norway,” he said as part of the program’s promotional campaign. “Along with a friend, I go to Norwegian classes.”

Another woman named Channeh said she was from Gambia, “loves” lutefisk and likes to read. “I’m happy when I’m with my family and sad when I see differences in society,” she said. “I dream of having a job at the Parliament.”

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