Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 11:28 AM EDT, 9 October 2012
Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility. ~ Robin Morgan
MINGORA, Pakistan – On Tuesday, a 14-year-old Malalai Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist, was shot while boarding a school bus for home. The girl has garnered international attention and praise for her bravery in advocating for the education of girls as well as publicizing the atrocities committed by the Taliban who oppose her efforts. She was nominated last year for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Yousafzai, who lives in the Swat Valley was shot twice, once in the head and once in the neck, but miraculously has survived. The second girl shot was in stable condition, the doctor said. Pakistani television showed pictures of Malalai being taken by helicopter to a military hospital in the frontier city of Peshawar.
The attack began when a bearded Taliban man walked up to the school buses where lines of children stood waiting to board. He asked one of the girls to point out Malalai, and then he walked toward Malalai and another girl she was standing with.
After demanding which of the two girls was his intended victim, the other girl pointed to Malalai who subsequently denied her identity, whereupon the Taliban gunman shot both girls. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Malalai’s work “obscenity.”
“This was a new chapter of obscenity, and we have to finish this chapter,” said Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan by telephone. “We have carried out this attack.” (Source: AP)
Malalai role as an international children’s rights activist began when she was only 11 years old. She initially began by authoring a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC’s Urdu service about life under Taliban occupation.
Taliban militants began asserting their influence in Swat in 2007 — part of a wave of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters expanding their reach from safe havens near the Afghan border. By 2008 they controlled much of the valley and began terrorizing the residents with the aberrant interpretation of religion.
They forced men to grow beards, restricted women from going to the bazaar, whipped women they considered immoral and beheaded opponents.
During the roughly two years of their rule, Taliban in the region destroyed around 200 schools. Most were girls’ institutions, though some prominent boys’ schools were struck as well.
Then in the summer of 2009 after the Taliban was successfully rooted out and driven by from the Swat Valley by Pakistani militia, Malalai began speaking out publicly about the tyranny of militant groups and the need for girls’ education.
In 2010, Malalai, then 13, chaired a children’s assembly in Swat Valley which was supported by UNICEF, during which she championed the continued progress and increased role of girls in Pakistani society.
“Girl members play an active role,” she said, according to an article on the U.N. organization’s website. “We have highlighted important issues concerning children, especially promoting girls’ education in Swat.”
Kamila Hayat, a senior official of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, praised Malalai for standing up to the militants. “This is an attack to silence courage through a bullet,” Hayat said. “These are the forces who want to take us to the dark ages.” (Source: AP)