How do you shoot a 14-year old girl?
The whole world is waiting and watching, praying that Malala Yousufzai doesn’t die from the bullets that pierced her head and body after gunmen opened fire on her while she was riding a school bus. Yet even with the strong outcry against this cowardly action, the Taliban (who were behind the attack) are still vowing their goal to kill Ms. Yousufzai, as well as her father.
Whether or not they succeed in their goal, the Taliban in Pakistan have inadvertantly dug their own grave.
Mistreatment and honor killings of young girls by the Taliban and other hardline Islamic extremists are not new phenomena, but the shooting of Ms. Yousufzai stands in contrast because she is not a family member of the gunmen. She did not “shame their honor.” Yet the Taliban decided to take it upon themselves to try and kill a little girl who had done absolutely nothing wrong, except fight for the right for other girls like her to go to school and receive an education.
“We warned him several times to stop his daughter from using dirty language against us, but he didn’t listen and forced us to take this extreme step,” Taliban in the Swat Valley spokesperson Sirajuddin Ahmad said in an announcement regarding her father, peace leader Ziauddin Yousufzai. Forced us? Nothing, nor no one forces a grown man to pick up a gun and go out and hunt down a girl and shoot her.
” The extremists attacked Malala because they were scared of the power of her vision. She had a simple message – the rights for the girls to be educated”. -Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf
Why is it so damn scary for a girl to be educated? I am already more educated than my husband. Does that mean I am bad, a girl who should take her head out of her books and put it to the oh-so-important acts of cooking and cleaning? This was the first time I had heard of Malala, and I must say I cannot think of a better hero. Her young age should quite frankly shame us here in the Western world, where children are coddled way past the age of childhood.
At the age of 11 (when she first spoke out against the Taliban) I was still playing with Barbie Dolls (albeit reading as well). Most 14 year-olds have no concept of anything beyond their friends and pop culture, disdaining the schoolwork they’re (in Malala’s eyes) actually fortunate to have. At the age of 20, American college students are blissfully unaware of the outside world, partying and boozing it up in an environment almost as sexist as Taliban-governed hotspots, going home to their parents to have their laundry washed and to enjoy a homecooked meal since they don’t know how to cook. Yet Malala presents herself as smart, openminded, aware, caring; she is aware of the world around her, she is aware of politics. She is brave. And she’s only fourteen years old.
On a personal note I empathize with Malala: no man takes away my damn right to pick up a book and make myself a better person. Maybe the Taliban would do with picking up a book more often, and should they need advice on which to choose, I would tell them to reread the Qu’ran. Because nowhere in the holy book does it say a woman should not be educated.
Foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, is quoted in the NY Times as calling the attack a “’wake-up call’ that could prove to be a turning point in Pakistan’s war against extremism.” Besides calling to attention the lack of women’s education in Pakistan, the attack, like 9/11 and subsequent terrorist events, has served to severely dent the allure of extremism in Pakistan as well as elsewhere. I only hope that some good can come out of this tragedy: I hope that Pakistan and the rest of the Muslim world realizes that their daughters deserve an education, because if they don’t I feel assured that there will be a dozen more Malala’s ready to fight for their rights.