Tarek Fatah died of cancer on April 24, at the age of 73
Lion of Punjab.
Son of Hindustan.
Lover of Canada.
Speaker of truth.
Fighter for justice.
Voice of the down-trodden, underdogs, and the oppressed.
has passed the baton on… his revolution will continue with all who knew and loved him.
Natasha Fatah, a longtime CBC journalist, tweeted out this magnificent tribute to her father, Tarek Fatah, on Monday. It beautifully summarized the life and career of a man who was Canada’s most fearless columnist.
Fatah was a good man, a great writer – and a courageous individual. Three qualities that many of us in this profession aspire to be, and only a select few are fortunate to attain. Yet it’s the word “fearless” that truly epitomizes his character, quest for truth, and firm belief that good will triumph over evil.
“Fearless. That’s the one word that, for me, best described Tarek Fatah,” Toronto Sun columnist Lorrie Goldstein wrote on Apr. 24. He knew this from first-hand experience. When Fatah became a Sun columnist in 2012, Goldstein was his editor. Nothing scared the talented author, journalist and political activist. “Not death threats by fanatics,” Goldstein wrote. “Not arrests. Not imprisonment by dictatorial regimes abroad, all of which he endured with remarkable stoicism, courage and even humour.”
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Born in Karachi, Pakistan, on Nov. 20, 1949, Fatah regularly criticized the political situation in his birth country. He was a secular, liberal Muslim who spoke out against religious extremism – including in his own faith. He rejected anti-semitism and anti-Christian bigotry and said both were incompatible with Islam. His Sun columns, along with various radio and TV appearances, were typically lightning rods of controversy. His two books, Chasing a Mirage (2008) and The Jew Is Not My Enemy (2010), seemingly had an equal number of supporters and detractors.
Even his political beliefs inflamed the passions and tensions of our democratic society.
Fatah started off as a New Democrat and ran unsuccessfully for them in the 1995 Ontario election. He left to support Bob Rae’s 2006 Liberal leadership bid, and broke all ties with the party in a 2008 press conference because he “noticed a countrywide recruitment in the NDP by pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah activists” for the past two years and was “running Islamist candidates.” He later supported Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the 2015 federal election and both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Through it all, he remained an old guard social democrat. It was a political journey not unlike that of Sidney Hook. The brilliant U.S. philosopher had drifted from Marxism to finding common cause with Republicans like former President Ronald Reagan, but remained a social democrat to the end.
Poetic justice, indeed.
I knew Fatah on a lighter basis. We chatted occasionally on social media and met in person a few times at book launches and the like. He was always a pleasure to speak with. An engaging fellow with a sharp intellect and an equally sharp tongue! Not in a bad way, mind you. He had strong opinions and was more than willing to share them. I’m not much different, so I’ve been told (and know full well). It led to some fanciful verbal jousts – and enough laughter to fill an auditorium.
Fatah was also deeply devoted to his family.
He married Nargis in 1974. She was the love of his life, and the reverse was true. His two daughters, Nazia and Natasha, had an important place in his heart. They were the centre of his universe – and he was their champion and greatest booster.
Fatah faced his most powerful adversary during his final battle against cancer, which he had beaten once before. Fanatics and extremists were child’s play compared to the Grim Reaper.
He wasn’t going to leave this world without a fight, however.
That’s how he had lived his life: defending his ideas and policies, standing up against bullies and for the little guy, and opposing those who refused to respect the cherished principles of democracy, liberty and freedom.
Without fear, in each and every instance.
“We should all lead our lives trying to identify the good in people, and provide ideas and solutions on what we think should be adjusted, rectified or simply made better,” I wrote in my final note to Fatah. “These are qualities that your friends and colleagues from across the political spectrum have always admired about you.”
I’m proud to have been one of them. I, along with many other talented individuals, will gladly take up his baton to help keep this revolution going. In my own way, of course – but with his courage, spirit, conviction and fearlessness always top of mind.
Rest in peace.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.
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