Braveheart Muslim Scot reaches South Pole milestone
AN adopted Scot has become the first Muslim to ski to the South Pole.
Mostafa Salameh, 44, completed the gruelling endurance trek across Antarctica over 54 days, 38 of which were spent on skis.
He crossed the ice-bound continent with two teammates, pulling up to 90 kilos of supplies behind them on sleds.
The former refugee set off in November, but was trapped at the Union Glacier base camp by fierce storms for 13 days before setting off across one of the harshest landscapes on earth.
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Along the way he raised huge sums for charity, and carried a Scottish saltire for good luck which he flew over the Pole after finally reaching his goal earlier this month.
He had to cope with minor frostbite to his nose and toes, a swollen wrist caused by the weight of his sled and a sprained ankle on the last four days of the trek.
Mr Salameh, a Scottish-Jordanian Muslim, has previously climbed Everest, reached the peaks of the seven highest mountains on each of the continents, and made it to the North Pole.
During the South Pole trek he met another polar record breaker, Luke Robertson, who made it to the pole unaided despite previously suffering a brain tumour and having a pacemaker fitted.
Mr Salameh said: “It feels really good to have made it. I’ve done the grand slam of adventures.
“The toughest thing about crossing Antarctica was the cold, which made things very difficult at times. It was harder than I expected and it took a lot of getting used to.
“But every day you get fitter and more used to the sled you’re pulling behind you. I wanted to do this to show a good image of Islam and give young people a better message than the one of radicalisation.”
The 44-year-old was brought up in a refugee camp before coming to the UK to study at Edinburgh University. He has received a number of awards for his adventures, and was knighted by the King of Jordan for his services to charity.
The South Pole trip is his final challenge, and raised £2 million for Jordan’s King Hussein Cancer Centre and $100000 dollars for the United Nations Relief and Works agency to rebuild a school in Gaza.
He came to Britain in 1998 and was inspired by Braveheart to become an adventurer.
His trek across Antarctica was dedicated to raising charity cash and raising awareness of the dangers of radicalisation to vulnerable young Muslims in Britain and elsewhere.
The father of three, who was knighted by the King of Jordan for his services to charity, will be reunited with Scottish partner Krissy Gormley, from Edinburgh, and their three kids after a Royal reception in Jordan, where he is to be hailed as a hero.
He added: “I never learned to ski until 2014 but I had to ski for nine hours a day.
“I have frostbite on my nose and I sprained my ankle and damaged my wrists. I lost 17 kg, around 20 per cent of my body weight, because we were on dried supplies and using so many calories every day. “But the mission was a success and I feel blessed to have had the support of so many people.”
He added that he was inspired to meet Luke, 30, who completed his solo challenge earlier this month – the first Scot to do so.
He said: “That man is a wonder and to do what he did alone is an amazing feat. Of all the places to find another man in a kilt, you would not expect the South Pole.”
Along with a Saltire and a Jordanian flag, Mostafa took a copy of the Bible and Koran on his trek.
He said: “I want to spread the word that the world does not have to have so much conflict. I have met young Muslims while I was in London who had nothing in their lives to look forward to because of poverty and deprivation.
“That makes people very vulnerable to being brainwashed and I want to highlight the problems British Muslims face. I regard my trip as representing a different type of Jihad, something that tries to make a positive difference rather than a destructive one.
“I did it for Islam and the peaceful massage this beautiful religion came to offer as i become also the first Muslim to do so. I did it for the Palestinian people and hope for peace.
“I did it for the environment and the message my main sponsor wants to spread, did it for Education especially in Gaza, I did it for refugees all over the world and off course to all Jordanians and Arabs, to Scotland and specially Edinburgh where my adopted home is.
“To my mum and dad and to my wife Krissy and best mother to my children , my boys Zaidan, Ayman, Yacob and Sami Everest, my friends and everyone that believed in me.”