As anti-Muslim sentiments increase around the globe, a Muslim man living in Germany decided to take initiative in fighting racism and islamophobia, touring the world on his bike to raise awareness and correct misconceptions.
Recai Karaca Pak, a Muslim of Turkish origin, hit the road in August last year to explain true Islam to people and counter media widespread misconceptions.
The long journey was first sparked by a smear media campaign against Muslims and Turks in Europe.
“This situation opens the door to racism. I jumped on my bike to raise awareness and set off from Europe to Turkey. I traveled to many European countries and told people that the propaganda against Muslims was wrong,” he told Anadolu Agency.
“Those Europeans know that Muslims are not against them. They have fraternal relations with Muslims. But those who do not know Muslims keep a distance because of the media propaganda,” he explained.
Pak hopes to inform the whole world about Muslim and Turkish culture, as well as the extent of racism targeting them.
“Muslims face racism and encounter difficulties in finding a job or renting an apartment in many places. Our mosques face over 400 attacks a year. The solution is to introduce and express ourselves,” Pak said.
“I want to show our humanity and character to those who do not know us.”
The 47-year-old plans to travel to Mongolia from Turkey by plane and then return to Turkey on his bike.
“I plan to travel nearly 14,000 kilometers (8,700 miles) by cycling to the places of our ancestors. We will put up a sign against all kinds of racism wherever we go. Many people will accompany me on this journey,” he said.
The idea of touring different cities to counter hate is not new.
In 2017, a hijab-wearing Muslim woman with a Harvard law degree joined a white Lutheran pastor in developing a unique friendship, touring different American cities to fight Islamophobia and division.