It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
The bullet through Malala Yousafzai's head might be the most despicable act of violence the world has seen from the Taliban yet. As a 14-year-old Muslim girl growing up in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhunkhwa she and all the other young girls here face a harsh reality—the Taliban and its ludicrous diktats. As they attempted to take control over every aspect of women's lives, banning them from going to school, music, television and much more, Malala's only crime was to champion the rights of education for women. She was a young girl who just wanted to go to school in the pursuit of knowledge.
But before we continue, allow us to paint a more complete picture. When she was only 11 years old (2009) Fazlullah or Radio Mullah, known for his fiery radio broadcasts took over Swat valley where she resided and ordered the closure of all girls' schools including Yousufzai's. Still young enough to maintain innocent outrage, she was determined to do something about this and decided to start keeping a blog for the BBC under a pen name for the safety of her family.
Here are some excerpts from her blog:
"I was getting ready for school and about to wear my uniform when I remembered that our principal had told us not to wear uniforms and come to school wearing normal clothes instead. So I decided to wear my favourite pink dress. Other girls in school were also wearing colourful dresses. During the morning assembly we were told not to wear colourful clothes as the Taliban would object to it." - January, 2009
"On my way from school to home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you'. I hastened my pace... to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone."
"The girls were not too excited about vacations because they knew if the Taliban implemented their edict [banning girls' education] they would not be able to come to school again. I am of the view that the school will one day reopen but while leaving I looked at the building as if I would not come here again."
She continued on this dangerous path, entirely aware of the threats to her life as an education activist and showed she was not afraid of taking the extremists on. Of course, it only helped matters that her father Ziauddin was also a prominent education activist and supported his daughter right through. A crew from New York Times came and shot a documentary about her and her life as a schoolgirl in Taliban-encroached Pakistan and it wasn't long before she was catapulted to national hero status. It won her Pakistan's National Peace Prize (subsequently renamed the Malala peace prize) as well as a nomination for the International Children's Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu.
It also won her death threats from the Taliban and a chance to become their number one target. Her fame consistently grew and with it, so did Fazlullah's threats. He tried everything from publishing death threats in the newspapers and slipping it under her door to making phone calls to her residence but absolutely nothing deterred the young activist.
This, says the Taliban, is exactly why they sent assassins to rid the region of its bravest young woman, despite a tribal code which forbids them from killing women. Their simple reasoning? "We had no intentions to kill her but were forced when she would not stop (speaking against us)." It seems the Taliban held a meeting a few months ago in which it was unanimously decided that Malala be killed.
On October 9, 2012 she was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on the school bus. She was unconscious and in critical condition for quite a few days post the attack but as soon as her condition was stable enough, she was sent to the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation. On October 12, a group of Islamic clerics issued a fatwa against her killers while the Taliban reiterated its intent to kill Yousufzai and her father Ziauddin.
The sordid saga still continues while the young girl continues to battle for her life. This is her story, what you do with it is your will but it is one that must be known. For the sake of girl children, for the sake of anti-terrorism, for the sake of non-violence, for the sake of peace and most importantly, for the sake of freedom. So in answer to our titular question , here's why you need to know Malala. Quite simply put, Yousafzai is a representation of the other side of Muslim history. One that needs as much (if not more) media attention than its other, far bloodier side. Ironically enough, Malala's very name means 'grief-stricken.' Perhaps we can attempt to show her a world where everything doesn't encapsulate that sentiment.
Hit play below to see the astounding intelligence and sensitivity of a 14-year-old Malala in this interview she gave before getting shot below:
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