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A Syrian in space

The astronaut Muhammed Faris was hailed a national hero in 1987 after accompanying a Soviet crew on a trip to the Mir space station

Former astronaut Muhammed Faris is the star of a new show Leuband

Hands up if you can name the first Syrian in space… the astronaut Muhammed Faris was hailed a national hero in 1987 after accompanying a Soviet crew on a trip to the Mir space station; the Aleppo-born air force officer was even dubbed the “Neil Armstrong of the Arab world”. But after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Faris fled in 2012 to Istanbul, where he now lectures on non-violent resistance. The Turkish artist Halil Altindere is shining a spotlight on the spaceman in a show organised by the independent space Das Art Project. Welcome to Homeland, at the Sadik Pasha Mansion in Cihangir, Istanbul (until 21 October), explores the refugee crisis engulfing Turkey. Paintings and photographs depict Faris, the man who orbited the earth and stood up to President Bashar al-Assad.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 294 October 2017