By: Jim Poling, a Managing Editor at
The Hamilton Spectator
Note: I know Jim for almost eight years, he’s a great man with a worm heart beating for humanity in his chest.
Here’s what he has written about me in his blog.
In late 2001 when the Taliban lost power in Afghanistan he hoped for a brave new world of free speech and democratic freedom. Mahdavi was overjoyed with new freedom of speech legislation passed by the fledgling Hamid Karzi’s presidential regime. Within six months of the new freedom law being passed, there were 104 print media registered.
Mir was Editor-in-chief of an Afghan weekly newspaper called Aftab. It means “The Sun.”
Mir is fiercely independent and his views on democracy and freedom didn’t mesh with the new regime. He was extremely critical of the new government and came down hard on for warlords, the mujahedeen commanders and religious bosses who ran Kabul. From Mir’s perspective, not much had changed. The structure had, but Karzai’s government was heavily influenced by the former regime. Most of the former heavy hitters still held the balance of power.
When Mir published editorial and opinion pieces that were not favorable, he learned, in this case, the sword is mightier than the pen. He was arrested, threatened with death and eventually, after being found guilty of insulting Islam, was sentenced by the Supreme Court to die for his written words.
Mir fled the country with his wife and young daughter. He lives in Hamilton now and has another daughter and young son. He worked for The Hamilton Spectator as a reporter for a year and then decided to return to school to complete a master’s degree in culture and critical theory. Mir is a journalist and academic and believes he can change the world with his words.
I believe in Mir. He is a freedom fighter. He drives a cab through Hamilton’s streets now to earn a living. In his spare time, he blogs in Farsi still commenting on Afghani politics and trying to make a difference. With his words.
Today, in the Hamilton Spectator, Mir gave us a glimpse of his life in Canada. Seems Mir will need many words and sunshine, since he has views to change abroad in Afghanistan and on the mean streets here. He’s been arrested, sentenced to death and lives in exile. In one exchange this is what a customer told him recently: “Go there and fix the problem yourself, why are we dying for your country?”
Mir fled his country. He’s trying to fix it. As a Canadian citizen. He wasn’t born here, instead he took an oath and chose to become Canadian.