The French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.” The Taleban took Napoleon’s saying to another level: “One popular female-authored blog is more to be feared than a thousand NATO troops, dozens of fighter jets and several killer drones.”
The blog was authored by Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year old Pakistani girl currently fighting for her life in a military hospital. In it she described life as an 11-year old girl living under Talebani rule in the Swat Valley in north west Pakistan. The Pakistani army later regained the territory in a violent confrontation with the Taleban. Blog entries such as “I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools” and “My father said that some days ago someone brought the printout of this diary [ie her blog post] saying how wonderful it was. My father said that he smiled but could not even say that it was written by his daughter” irritated the Taleban so much that even three-and-a-half years later, after she had emerged from a cloak of anonymity and stopped using her pen name, they decided to murder her as she returned from school.
Their official reasons for attempting to murder her?
Ehsanullah Ehsan, the Taleban spokesman who claimed responsibility on behalf of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told Reuters that Yousafzai was “pro-west, she was speaking against Taleban and she was calling President Obama her ideal leader. She was young but she was promoting western culture in Pashtun areas.”
It’s not difficult to see the dangerous mindset here. If the Taleban sincerely believe what they are doing is an honourable thing, and they do, then why stop at murdering a 14-year old girl? Half of Pakistan and probably half of the whole Muslim world would qualify to be murdered for carrying ‘liberal views’. For the Taleban to then threaten to kill Yousafzai again should she survive shows their cold-heartedness.
And it is a fallacy to believe, and further to promote, the idea that girls should not be educated and prohibit them from attending schools – it makes a mockery of the Prophet Mohammed’s saying that “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every believer.” A Muslim woman has the right to be educated and to work outside the home. You can guess what the Taleban think of talented Muslim women such as Egyptian Aisha Mustafa, Saudi Arabian Hayat Sindi and American-Muslim Reshma Khan. The Taleban, if they were to propagate Islam righteously, would encourage female education, even if it was in segregated schools.
Interestingly, in a piece written by Sabbiyah Pervez on Yousafzai, Pervez reminds readers at the Guardian of the famous Malcom X quote: “If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate and liberate a whole nation.” She goes on to state boldly that “You empower her by giving her knowledge of what she can become. And this is dangerous. It is dangerous to the Taliban because it means that they will not be able to impose their patriarchal laws upon liberated women.”
The reaction to Yousafzai’s attempted murder has been one of unified condemnation, and rightly so, and it has come from all around the world. There were rallies across Pakistan condemning the Taleban and there exists a reward, 10 million rupees (£70,000), for information leading to the arrest of Yousafzai’s attacker. The Taleban’s action could also be used to argue that it undermines their argument that the conflict they’re engaged in with NATO is disproportionate – one where NATO and Pakistani troops have superior military equipment and are larger in number compared to the Taleban. A 14-year old girl in a patriarchal society can’t put up much of a fight against an armed Talebani aiming a gun at her head.
And to the Western media highlighting with zeal Yousafzai’s attempted murder, there are hundreds of Pakistani families who have lost young kids to murderous drone attacks perpetrated by the USA – both cases deserve to be highlighted as much as each other.
But whoever it was that said “the pen is mightier than the sword” was not wrong. The attempted murder has seen people write about Yousafzai, condemn the Taleban and, more importantly, highlight her blog and her writing – a case of the Taleban shooting themselves in the foot.
Originally published at MPACUK
- Humanity needs more Malala Yousafzai (freethoughtblogs.com)
- The Pakistani Taliban’s ‘Justification’ for Trying to Murder a 14-Year-Old Girl (theatlantic.com)
- Religious Fundamentalism | Taliban Shoot Young Girl | Bullet Lodged In Brain (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)
- The Pakistani Taliban’s Justification For Shooting A Schoolgirl (rferl.org)
- Heroine Malala Saluted, Villain Taliban Damned (rferl.org)
- What has Malala Yousafzai done to the Taliban? | Kamila Shamsie (guardian.co.uk)
- Shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl activist triggers mass protests (PHOTOS, VIDEO) (rt.com)
- Taliban Shoot Pakistani Schoolgirl For Promoting Girls’ Education (ibtimes.com)