For 5 weeks, the female imam and human rights advocate walked 643 km to build bridges and break down prejudices.
Throughout her life, Seyran Ateş has faced adversity and challenges. A human rights activist, Muslim, feminist, imam, and woman with a strong desire to stand up for what she believes in, she has become a pillar of support for many people.
In 2017, she opened the Ibn Ruschd-Goethe Mosque in Berlin, a unique place that welcomes everyone - regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or faith.
The fight for an inclusive interpretation of Islam has not been without risks. Seyran Ateş has experienced harassment and death threats, and currently lives under police protection. However, she has not been broken. Her courage and dedication to create a better world have driven her to go where others might hesitate.
This summer, as a powerful symbol of hope and peace, Seyran Ateş brought her campaign for tolerance and understanding to Norway. She embarked on a pilgrimage from Oslo to Trondheim along the Gudbrandsdalsleden, a 643 km trek on what was the main route to Nidaros in the Middle Ages.
Together with her fellow pilgrims, she took the first steps from St. Hallvard's Cathedral in Oslo, and for 5 weeks, they journeyed through idyllic landscapes, in all kinds of weather. On roads and paths, through forests and over mountains. Along the way, they passed historical sites and beautiful churches, symbols of the pilgrim tradition that has lived on for centuries.
The pilgrimage became a journey of openness, unity, and the value of understanding others' cultures. Seyran Ateş aims to break down prejudices and misconceptions, reminding us that the path to peace begins with building bridges.
The final leg of the journey went from Lian in Trondheim down to Nidaros Cathedral. On the way down, Seyran was accompanied by around 1000 attendees of all ages, and together, they walked the last 5 km to Nidaros Cathedral. Here, they were greeted by the puppet "Little Amal," part of an international art project about a Syrian girl searching for a safe place to sleep.
Seyran Ateş' pilgrimage will be remembered as proof that one person can make a significant difference in the world. She has shown us that the road to peace and understanding starts with small steps, one dialogue at a time. Her courage and dedication to a better world have inspired us all to stand together, regardless of faith, to create a more inclusive and loving world for everyone. We carry her vision with us and work together towards a future characterized by tolerance, unity, and peace.
Photo: Ole Martin Wold/ Olavsfest