People, Travel

Swedish Runner to Challenge Anti-Iran Prejudice

Swedish Runner to Challenge Anti-Iran PrejudiceSwedish Runner to Challenge Anti-Iran Prejudice

While diplomacy is the prevalent method of shedding stereotypes, people like Kristina Palten believe sport to be just effective, if not more.

Palten, a Swedish adventurer and runner who has jogged her way through many countries, has decided to run across Iran in an attempt to dispel Iranophobia and paint a more realistic picture of the storied Mideast nation, the Persian daily Sharq reported.

The Swede recently posted a picture of her Iranian visa on her blog with the comment, “Finally, I am holding the visa in my hand … [it] feels great!”

Barely able to contain her excitement, she later posted a long checklist of items she will need on her trip.

“I will set off on a journey that will take me across Iran, more than 2,000 kilometers, on foot from Bazargan [bordering Turkey] to Sarakhs [bordering Turkmenistan],” she said in another post.

“The route will take me along the Silk Road and the adventure is named “Thousand and one miles” after the fairy tale.”

She said as a single woman, she has no worries to travel to a Muslim country, and is determined to do this to “challenge xenophobia” that is increasingly spreading in her native land and around the world.

Palten emphasizes that love is her motive for taking this trip: “Eventually I realized that it is about fear and about love. It is about the way I want our society and our world to be. I want it to be based on love.

“Today I see that fear is ruling parts of how we live our lives and how we build our world and societies. I see xenophobic political parties growing in popularity, in Sweden and elsewhere.”

She also challenges herself, saying, “I want to challenge my own fears and prejudices as well as those of the world around me.”

Palten knows she cannot change the world by running, but believes it is worth a shot.

“By doing this trip, I hope to bring people closer to each other, and to contribute to a more tolerant, peaceful and loving world.”

In an interview with the state-owned Sveriges Radio, Palten said, “I’ve heard that [Iran] is a very beautiful country with nice people.”

Her journey begins on August 29, and she plans to run about 35 km every day and estimates that her adventure will take up to three months to complete.