vendredi 29 septembre 2017

Syria: First Arab astronaut Mohammed Faris is a refugee in Turkey!

Mohammed Faris is a national hero in Syria.

         Streets, schools and airports bear his name as national hero in Syria. Yet he left Syria and lives in exile in Turkey and has turned into a political opponent of the al-Assad regime "with words, not arms."
          In 1987, he was the first Arab professional cosmonaut to go into space. Today, and while the war has raged for nearly five years in Syria, the one who was the pride of his country no longer lives there. At 64, the former cosmonaut must "face one of the most challenging challenges of his busy life, during which he played the roles of fighter pilot, cosmonaut, military advisor to the regime of el -Assad, "writes The Guardian.
Mohammed Faris left Syria - where streets, schools and airports bear his name - to exile in Turkey, from which he militates against the government al-Assad, "with words, not arms."
Born on May 26, 1951. Two years before he flew to space, he was one of four young Syrians selected to join the Russian training program devoted to the allies of the Soviet Union, Interkosmos. At that time, the Syrian-Russian ties were very strong: the U.S.S.R. had supported the coup of Hafez al-Assad, the father of Bashar al-Assad, in 1970. In exchange, the Soviets were allowed to establish a naval base at Tarous, which still belongs to Russia today. As a colonel in the Syrian army, he was chosen as a cosmonaut on September 30, 1985.  On board the Soyuz TM-3, he made a single flight on July 22, 1987 as an experimenter spending 7 days, 23 hours and 5 minutes in space. After his flight, he returned to the Air Force. Married, he lives with his three children in Aleppo.

The whole world through his window.

         Among the four Syrians selected to be able to go into space, Mohammed Faris was the only one to be Sunni, a religious group "that represents more than 80% of the population of the country and that poses a threat to the regime", which is Shiite confession, according to The Guardian. Despite the reluctance of the delegation dispatched from Syria "to help the Russians choose their man", it is Mohammed Faris who will join Mir station to take pictures and scientific experiments with Russian colleagues in July 1987:
"These seven days, twenty-three hours and five minutes have upset my life," he told the Guardian. When we see the whole world through its window, there is no more "us" or "them", "no more politics. "

First Time Protestant

         Upon his return from mission, Mohammed Faris plans to create a Syrian institute devoted to science and space but the president of the time opposes a "non-categorical". Instead, he is promoted to teaching at a university that trains the Air Force:
"Hafez el-Assad wanted to keep his people in ignorance and divided, with a limited understanding of things," recalls the former cosmonaut. That's how dictators stay in place. The vision that such an institute could have given to people was dangerous. "
At the death of Hafez al-Assad, Mohammed Faris was one of the first to meet his successor, Bashar al-Assad. "Like his father, Bashar was an enemy of the people," he said. He became a military adviser until civil war broke out in 2011. Despite the threats of the regime's supporters, he joined the peaceful ranks of the early protesters with his wife.

"The Russians are assassins"

Then came the violence, growing ... Mohammed Faris watches, helplessly, his pupils join the military forces of the regime. He plans to escape with his wife and three children. But, not anywhere. His former colleagues and Russian friends offered him their help, but the idea of exile in Russia disgusts him:
"Putin has nothing to do with the U.S.S.R.. Russians are assassins, criminals who support other criminals. They have the blood of more than 2,000 civilians on their hands. "
Nor are the asylum proposals in Europe suitable. He is persuaded that they are motivated by political intent. "They did not intervene when they were needed, and they are opposed to my ideals so I could not live there," he says. At the Associated Press, he also said: "If Europe does not want refugees, then they must help us get rid of this regime."

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