By: Jim Poling , managing editor for the Hamilton Spectator
Mir Mahdavi has travelled journalism’s many long roads and along the way he got an education.
He’s a brave man. A poet, journalist and, now, a scholar. This morning, at 10:27 a.m., Mir faced a beaming crowd of McMaster University Fall Convocation graduands at Hamilton Place, bowed his head slightly as the cloth trim was placed on him, and stood for a brief moment and breathed. Surely Mir was taking in years of struggle, some in a land far away, and some in Hamilton. Despite challenges many of us could never fathom, he graduated with a Master in Arts degree in cultural studies and critical theory.
In 2007, Mir worked at The Hamilton Spectator as part of our Internationally-trained journalists program. He came to us a few years after fleeing Afghanistan. In Kabul, Mir was editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper called Aftab, which means, “The Sun.”
In the early 2000s, Mir was beaten, threatened and sentenced to die because his journalism was critical of newly-formed Hamid Karzi’s regime. Mir wrote damning editorials that appealed for transparency and for that he was found guilty of insulting Islam and sentenced to die.
It’s a long road to Hamilton from Kabul. This morning Hamilton streets were frigid and damp with autumn leaves and heavy winter-like skies. Inside Hamilton Place from the sloped seating of the Great Hall, sat a family pressed against a railing and peering on to a stage. A wife, two daughters and a son watched as their dad momentarily left the brutality of Afghanistan behind and walked across a stage to a new season of life and education in Canada.
I’m thankful for our country, our values and for the strength of a community in this city and at McMaster University that lifted and supported a man like Mir. That is real sunshine.