In 1987, Muhammed Faris traveled to space as part of the Soviet Interkosmos Program. In doing so, he became the first Syrian cosmonaut to go into space and earned the "hero of Syria" medal from the-president Hafiz al-Assad. Airports and streets were soon named after him, according to Hurriyet Daily News. Faris began teaching at universities and even served in the Syrian army as a general for a brief period.
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That all changed in 2012, though. Faris and his family fled the turmoil of the Syrian Civil War, crossing over into Turkey by foot. He was reportedly offered to relocate his family to Russia, but instead chose to settle his family in Istanbul's Fatih district. Faris lives with his family in a two-bedroom apartment and speaks at conferences to share his experience. He offered some nice thoughts on the power of traveling to space with Russian crew mates: "When you watch the earth from the same spacecraft, you become like brothers. This is a feeling that clears away all differences," said Faris.
To learn more about the ongoing Syrian Civil War and its possible outcomes, watch this video below:
(Photo: Muhammed Faris in 2012 via Leuband at German Wikipedia)