Issue 282, Friday 26 October 2012 - 10 Dhu al-Hijjah 1433
Pakistani teen shot by Taliban in UK for treatment
By Salma Benyahia
14-year-old activist and student Malala Yousufizai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban, is being treated in the UK at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital. She arrived in Birmingham on October 15 from Pakistan.
Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Dave Rosser, said, “It is obvious that Malala will need reconstructive surgery and we have international experts in that field.” Doctors at the hospital which specialises in military casualties said she was in a strong condition.
Muslim scholars in Pakistan and Muslim organisations worldwide voiced their condemnation of the attempted assassination of the teenager on October 9 by Taliban gunmen. Malala was shot when she was returning home from school in the Swat Valley on board the school bus.
Four suspects have been arrested but the man revealed to be one of the masterminds behind the attack, identified as Attaullahm, is said to have escaped.
A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, issued a statement on October 10 taking responsibility for the attack claiming it was “obligatory” to kill anyone “leading a campaign” against Islamic law. Justifying the attack, he said Malala “has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it.”
Malala’s primary objective in her activism has been the right of women to education. Malala’s activism dates back to 2007 when she began blogging anonymously on BBC Urdu about the Taliban’s prohibition of female education. By 2009 Malala began to appear on television and publically advocating female education through her position as Chair of the District Child Assembly Swat. In 2011 she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize - the Dutch international children’s advocacy group - by Desmond Tutu and she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize in December 2011
Support for Malala and condemnation of the attacks has been extensive across the globe, coming from many platforms and mediums, most importantly, from leading figures within Pakistan. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, condemned the attacks saying, “We have to fight the mindset that is involved in this. We have to condemn it....We face a threat from a bigoted and radicalised mindset which wants to rob us of our cherished values of peace, pluralism, moderation, tolerance and passion for knowledge.” Pakistani authorities are offering a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of her attackers.
More than 50 Islamic scholars from the Sunni Ittehad Council based in Lahore issued a fatwa stating that, “Islam does not stop women from acquiring education and by attacking Malala the Taliban have crossed the limits of Islam.”
Support from across the nation has been unrelenting with protests being held in Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Nankana Sahib, Jhelum, Mirpurkhas and other parts of the country.
Yaum-e-Dua [day of supplication] was observed in Sindh with the children and teachers of schools in Sindh raising their hands praying for the recovery of Malala. Teachers said they were observing the prayer day for Malala to send a message to terrorists that “Malala is not alone; the entire nation supports her in her cause for education.”
Schools in Afghanistan joined in this show of solidarity for Malala by opening on a Saturday in order for pupils and teachers to offer special prayers for her quick recovery.
Education Ministry Spokesman, Amanullah Iman, explained this move as one, “to show sympathy” to Malala “where around 9.5 million students all over the country in 15,500 schools and education centres offered prayers for her quick recovery.”
A school in Peshawar has been renamed ‘Malala Yousufzai Government Girls Secondary School’ in recognition of her courageous fight for education rights.
Alongside this Muslim organisations worldwide have been vocal in their denunciation of the attack terming it a violation of all Islamic values.
Secretary General of Muslim Council of Britain, Farooq Murad, condemning the attack which he described as an illustration: “That violence and political violence in particular, has been an everyday fact for Pakistanis. Each day we hear of an outrage: whether it is for sectarian, religious or political. This is compounded by the onset of US military drones that have cost the lives of so many innocent lives.”