Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Afghan Man in Space

The BBC Arabic is running a documentary about the only Afghan man to have gone to space. It's sad and sweet at the same time.

Wow, Jimmy Carter features in it: It is a wrong thing for a bad empire to subjugate an independent, Islamic people, says President Carter.

He was talking about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The man who grew up to be the astronaut lived through that.

The poor guy had to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war. He was in the airforce division. After the Soviets took over, he ended up becoming a Soviet cosmonaut. And that is how the only Afghan person entered space.

Now, he lives in Germany. Here he is playing soccer with his son.

And here is his whole family. They have lived in Germany, arriving as political refugees, for 20 years. His youngest is a nine year old son.

He and his wife were remembering how they got married and settled down in Kabul decades ago, before the Taliban and all that:

I think they left Afghanistan 4 days before the Taliban took over.

The documentary flashes back to Afghan history starting during the 1970s, and the life of the astronaut.

While he was in space, apparently something went wrong with their spacecraft. They showed this antiquated clip from the BBC news at the time. Says the news anchor: The Soviets won't admit it, but the astronauts seem to be marooned in space while their supply of oxygen runs out!

Just, oh my God! He looks like the most boring news anchor ever.

Any case, obviously, the astronauts made it out safely! All smiles here:

But while they tell the story of the Afghan man's journey into space, the documentary is also the story of how he is now returning to Afghanistan after an absence of 20 years. He talked about how different everything was, how so much had been destroyed. He was also scared that when he returned, he didn't know what kind of reception he'd get.

When he'd returned from space, he had been paraded through the streets of Kabul as a hero, while people cheered him and threw flowers.

And now during his return after 20 years in Germany, he saw that there were more people, it was more crowded, and there were armed people everywhere. And no one knew who he was.

But, then he did some interviews on TV, and the newer generation of Afghans started learning who he was. And then the president of Afghanistan requested an audience with him:

And people told him: when you were in space, we were fighting. But even in the middle of our battles, we still were so proud of you.

And then, he met some kids there in Afghanistan - including very cute little girls - and their parents. They were all outside at night looking at the moon through telescopes. It was really kind of sad.

The documentary said something like: historic Islamic scholars did a lot in terms of astronomy, so they want to leverage this to get kids interested and continuing the tradition.

They looked through telescopes:

And got to ask the astronaut questions:

Oh, and did I mention cute girls?

Gathering together:

I even got pictures of him with German kids. Because he visits the schools near where he lives, too:

And here he is: Afghan astronaut. His name is Abdel Ahad Momen, I think!

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