Afghan father and son cycle for peace

Afghan father and son cycle
Father and son stop off in Scotland as part of their 5,000 mile cycle for peace

A father and son cycling 5,000 miles from their home in Afghanistan to New York have stopped off in Scotland.

Nadir Shah is a peace ambassador for Afghanistan's government, and is on a mission to promote peace and solidarity for his country throughout the world.

 The 48-year-old and his son Feruz Khan, 17, began their epic cycling trip six months ago, crossing 13 countries en route to New York City, where they will meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr Shah, a dentist, said: “We thank the Scottish people for giving us a warm welcome in the beautiful, green city of Glasgow, which feels like a home away from home.

“The Afghan people want peace and we are tired of war. We hope to spread a message of peace of solidarity for Afghanistan and those who have fled the war for safety.”

Father and son set out from Istanbul in July last year and have crossed Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France and the UK. After visiting Scotland, they will fly to Virginia in the USA and cycle to New York City.

They were invited to Glasgow by the Afghan Human Rights Foundation and Glasgow Afghan United.  MSP Bob Doris has lodged a motion that the Scottish Parliament pays tribute to the “ambassadors of peace” and considers that Afghan families have made a significant contribution to Scotland.

Feruz Khan, who is still at school, said the journey has been gruelling at times. The cyclists had a wheel change every time they came to a new country and sheltered in bus and railway stations when they could not find a hotel.

Feruz said: “The worst night was in Austria when we had a puncture and we had to spend the night in the open during a downpour. Travelling through the mountains of Bulgaria during the hot days of summer was also very tough.”

They came through mainland Europe unscathed but Feruz was knocked off his bike by a car in Birmingham and has been recuperating for a few days in Glasgow until he can resume the journey.

Abdul Bostani, of Glasgow Afghan United, said: “I’m proud to welcome my countrymen with their message of peace and solidarity and I’m very happy they have been made so welcome in Scotland.

“People always think of war when they think of Afghanistan, so it’s great to see Mr Shah and Feruz show us a different side to the country and its people.”

Mohammad Asif, of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, said: “We pay tribute to father and son for bringing their message of peace to the world. It’s no easy undertaking to cycle across 13 countries.”

Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee has provided the father-and-son cyclists with equipment, while the Foreign Ministry has organised their visas and is paying their expenses.

In 2002, Mr Shah cycled from Kabul to London, a journey that took him more than a year to complete. On his return, he was given the title of national hero by the Afghan government and a medal by the Olympic Committee.