MPAC Honors Hiam Abbass, ‘Miral,’ ‘The Good Wife’ & ‘Fordson’ with 20th Annual Media Awards

Past Honorees Join 400+ in Celebrating Voices of Courage and Conscience

June 28, 2011

Before a full house this weekend, the Muslim Public Affairs Council honored acclaimed actress Hiam Abbass for her portrayal of Hind al-Husseini in the film “Miral,” the thought-provoking legal drama “The Good Wife,” and the poignant documentary “Fordson.” In a night filled with celebration and emotional moments, the honorees thanked Muslim Americans for their support and shared the inspiration behind their projects.

More than 400 people gathered on Saturday evening to honor these voices of courage and conscience. The crowd was brought to its feet several times, as each honoree’s work was celebrated for the mark it made in raising public awareness about Muslims and broader social justice issues.

Elected officials Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) joined MPAC in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Media Awards Gala.

“MPAC is our voice of courage, of conscience expressing our collective outrage over those who perpetuate violence in the name of Islam,” Carson said.

To a joyous standing ovation, the first award of the night, presented by Pakistani American actor and 2010 Media Award recipient Faran Tahir, was given to Rashid Ghazi and Ash-har Quraishi, the director and producer of “Fordson.” Attendees were moved by this touching documentary that depicts the life of the Fordson High School football team in Dearborn, MI, as they deal with their biggest football game of the season while fasting during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

“When I came up with the idea in 2003, I thought we as Muslims needed to create content that was compelling ourselves,” Ghazi said. “The thing that we loved about this town is that it is truly an American town because of their passion for football.”

The second award was given to the writers and executive producers of CBS’ legal drama “The Good Wife,” Leonard Dick and Ted Humphrey, for their humanizing portrayal of Muslims and Islam in two episodes – “On Tap” and “Boom." Actor, activist and 2003 Media Award recipient Mike Farrell, the legendary star of “M*A*S*H,” presented the award to the duo.

“For me personally, this is a thrill knowing that one advocate for the Muslim American experience can be a Jewish kid from Canada,” Dick said. “This award is great validation that maybe we told the story in a successful way, so I thank you on behalf of the show.”

The final award of the evening was presented by “Amreeka” director and 2010 Media Award recipient Cherien Dabis to the movie “Miral.” The movie’s lead actress Abbass who depicts al-Husseini who founded a girls’ school, flew from the Middle East to accept the award. Following a standing ovation, Abbass was moved to tears saying that she was touched by being honored by such an accepting community.

“Thank you MPAC for this honor and this award,” Abbass said. “I think it’s Hind al-Husseini who deserves it and not me. I think she’s the woman that sacrificed all of her life for education and saving little souls from dying in the streets. I am proud to be here and honored for portraying her.”

MPAC Senior Adviser Dr. Maher Hathout closed the event by summing up the emotions in the room and reminding the audience about the power of art.

“We celebrate the champions of the art who are honorees tonight,” Hathout said. “From that podium years ago, we defined art as the message to the soul in an envelope of beauty. Our honorees are the authors of the message and the providers of the envelope that goes right to the heart. No change can happen for the cause of justice or liberty or beauty unless the change starts in the hearts of men and women.”

In an effort to promote positive and accurate portrayals of Islam and Muslims, MPAC each year recognizes voices of courage and conscience who are the best in their field. Since 1991, MPAC has honored artists, actors, authors, and activists for their artistic contributions to tolerance and diversity. MPAC's Media Awards is a production of its Hollywood Bureau, which serves as a resource and ally to television networks, film studios, screenwriters and the creative community at large.

Click here to check out the images from the event! 

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