CIC 2006 Award for Media Excellence
Speech of Acceptance by Tony Seed
Former recipients of the prestigious award include Haroon Siddiqui, editorial page director of the Toronto Star, and columnists Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star and Rick Salutin of the Globe and Mail.
Introducing Mr Seed, Dr. Taukik Valiante stated that "the CIC presents its media award to one journalist annually following the criteria of exemplifying fairness, objectivity and equality. Tony Seed is editor and publisher of Shunpiking, Nova Scotia's discovery magazine, and of the Dossier on Palestine. The magazine also publishes annual supplements on First Nations, Black History and Minority Language Rights. The magazine's website, which you can access atwww.shunpiking.org , features many dossiers on questions of concern to the community, such as security certificates, the July war Against Lebanon, and the 60th Anniversary of the Victory Over Fascism in WWII. Tony Seed co-organized the Halifax International Symposium on Media and Disinformation in July, 2004; one of its main public forums was on Islam and Disinformation.
"When I asked him on what he was going to speak tonight, he showed me the first page of his speech, saying 'you decide'. After reading it, I concluded he is going to be speaking on what it means to be us - what it means to be a Muslim today."
30 October 2006
Mr President, Madame Vice President,
Honoured guests, brothers and sisters and friends,
It is a matter of great joy to be here together to celebrate the political, artistic, social and humanitarian achievements of the Muslim community in Canada. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, people of Muslim faith stand second to none in their contribution to what it means to be Canadian. They do so today under the most difficult circumstances of state-organized attempts to marginalize them, humiliate them and extinguish their being. Every minute of every day Muslims suffer the indignity and humiliation of the pressure that they must overtly prove that they are worthy Canadians by accepting what are called Canadian values. They are supposed to prove through every word and action that they are moderate, not extremist; civilized, not medieval; democratic, not lovers of despotism, theocracy, terrorism and all kinds of other buzz words on the basis of which reaction tries to criminalize belief, culture and being.
Knowing that this is the case, this celebration hosted by the Canadian Islamic Congress takes on even greater meaning. It gives expression to the work of not only the CIC but all Muslims in Canada to defend their dignity as human beings in the most profound sense of what it means to be human and Canadian, in the true sense which recognizes that being Canadian means to accept all languages, cultures and beliefs as equal and the contribution of all human persons as essential to the well-being of the society upon which they depend for their living.
In this regard, I profoundly thank the CIC for this esteemed award so generously conferred to me and my publication, Shunpiking, and the Dossier on Palestine. This is not one man's achievement. On behalf of all those who have contributed to dispelling the disinformation on the life, work and struggle of the peoples of Palestine, all peoples of Arab origin and who espouse the Muslim faith, I thank you very much for recognizing our efforts.
Our work is difficult, but not impossible because together we stand for a just cause. It is a just cause for many reasons. But perhaps the most important reason is that it is a historic cause, a cause intimately tied up with the future of not only the people of Muslim faith worldwide, who number in their billions, but with the fate of humankind itself. The fact that all of us stand together in these difficult times, united in our desire to see a favourable outcome to the disasters which are being created for our peoples and our homelands, is the most important ingredient. No matter what our differences in terms of beliefs or ways of life, our unity must be treasured and strengthened and it will prevail.
On this occasion, I have been asked to speak briefly on the topic of Muslims and the Media. Well, it is a topic that you know better than I because you are the Muslims who are victims of the media! I was nonetheless going to venture some remarks from the angle of what motivates media disinformation. However, due to the length of the proceedings and the many interesting speakers, it is perhaps best to leave my remarks for another occasion.
Before I conclude, permit me to personally thank both Dr. Mohamed Elmasry and Dr. Ismail Zayid for their active interest, participation and assistance in the specific media work which won us this award, especially the Dossier on Palestine and against media disinformation. Above all, I would like to express my gratitude to my comrade and friend, the late Hardial Bains, whose guidelines on journalism which seeks truth from facts and whose analysis on the role of disinformation continue to guide my work. Disinformation, he pointed out, is organized by the agencies of the state to wreck the coherence of the polity, so as to make sure people cannot achieve the required social change and realize their aspirations.
In February 1971, when I was unjustly fired by the Globe and Mail nine days after being nominated for a national newspaper award, following which I was blacklisted across Canada for the next 35 years, Hardial encouraged me to march on. "If the Globe and Mail won't tell the truth, Tony Seed will tell the truth," he told me at the time. If the need to tell the truth was great in 1971, it is even greater today at a time the dangers facing our world are greater and more and more of our people are made to die and suffer at the hands of darkest reaction. One feature of this reaction is that all that humankind holds dear is profaned. Since the 1991 first invasion of Iraq, some 400 journalists have given their lives in the quest to tell the truth. Thus, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all those who contribute to opposing media disinformation, including the journalists and editors of Montreal Muslim News and all the others developing independent media or media which helps us develop true and proper public opinion about the unfolding events, and the courage and conviction to take stands worthy of human society and development.
The work of media against disinformation requires sacrifice but what is irresistible is the spirit of basing ourselves on our own strength. This is the strength of our numbers, organization and our own intelligence behind the justice of our cause, with full confidence that together we and our allies, all those whose interests are favoured by opening society's path to progress, have the knowledge and the ability and, most of all the courage and conviction, to identify what is possible within any particular circumstances and increasingly complicated situations. It is this spirit which gave rise to the Dossier on Palestine and brought it to fruition and which enables all our common efforts in defence of the rights of all.
In this regard, this award which recognizes the need to tell the truth, as a guide to action which liberates us, is truly gratifying. It overwhelms the humiliation of being blacklisted by the monopoly media for 35 years and of being deprived of the chance to receive that award all those years ago.
Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for recognizing our work. Without you and everything you stand for it would not be possible. You represent the very finest convictions and emotions humankind has given rise to.
This speech was originally published in Montreal Muslim News on 2 November 2006 http://www.montrealmuslimnews.net and in the Friday Magazine of the Canadian Islamic Congress on 10 November 2006 http://www.cicnow.com/fb/friday_bulletin.php?fbdate=2006-11-10#1
*Tony Seed of Halifax, NS may be reached at email@example.com
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