In case some of you don't know who this brave child is, Malala Yousaf Zai is a fourteen year old female activist from Pakistan. When she was just 11 years old she started a blog in which she discussed what it was like to live under the thumb of the Taliban. The regime had taken control over the Swat Valley, the area in which she lives, and had banned girls from attending school. She eventually got the Pakistani military to oust the Taliban from the valley. Not only were girls allowed to attend school again, but Malala won Pakistan's first National Peace Prize.
Yousaf Zai has been greatly influenced by her poet and activist father, Ziauddin, who also runs several schools. Malala initially wished to be a doctor, but her father feels she is very special and has encouraged her to become a politician.
Malala's primary concern has been the education of girls. Since 2008 the Taliban has destroyed over 150 schools in the hopes of preventing girls from becoming educated. Many of her blog entries detail her fear of being killed by the Taliban, and these fears manifested in nightmares. She writes:
On October 9, 2012 these fears became a reality when she was shot in the head and neck on her way home from school. A Taliban gunmen approached the students on a bus and asked which one was Malala. He indicated that if she did not come forward, he would kill everyone. Being the brave young woman she is, she stepped forward and he shot her twice.
Even though they were able to remove the bullet that lodged in her spine she is suffering from severe cerebral edema and will be under sedation for another 24 hours. The other bullet has damaged the left side of her brain, the part of the brain said to be responsible for language and critical thinking. Doctors are optimistic and feel her condition is improving.
Since the attack there have been protests against the Taliban, and a huge outpouring of support for Yousaf Zai and her family. Pakistani authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for the capture of the gunman. The Taliban is threatening to kill her if she survives.
I’d like to think that if she doesn’t survive, that the people of Pakistan would rise up and tear down the Taliban regime. There is nothing more powerful than an angry mob fighting against unrighteous acts of violence and oppression. They have it within their power to do so, if they can lose their fear and fight with everything they have.
How cowardly, and shameful to be so afraid of women becoming educated that you would have to attempt to take the life of a child. This wasn’t about politics; this was a flat out misogynist attack, because the Taliban hate women.
I long to hear news of Malala’s recovery, but if by some tragic circumstances she doesn’t make it, I long to hear that it wasn’t in vain. The women of Pakistan have a responsibility to her, as she risked her life for her gender. If this little girl is willing to take a bullet for what she believes in, then the whole of the Muslim community can join forces to strong-arm the Taliban out of power. May the people of Pakistan rise up and rip out the heart of the Taliban. May they speak with one voice, and with one fist of righteous fury, may they change their nation forever.
Please check out this documentary, made by Adam B. Ellick in 2009. It shares some lovely moments between Malala and her father.
You can view her blog, here.