Adapted from the post I sent to my Yahoogroup a little while ago:
No point repeating what happened a week ago in Swat, when Taliban shot Malala Yusufzai, the 14-year old school girl who has been speaking out courageously for the right of girls to be educated, supported by her equally brave father, Ziauddin Yusufzai, principal of the school she was studying at.
Malala was already a hero to many. Now she has become a worldwide symbol of the right of girls to education, as well as of resistance to the Taliban. In this, she represents millions of Pakistanis – and world citizens. Her friend Kainat who was also injured, told CNN from her hospital bed that she hoped to continue her education and that Malala would come back and join her schoolmates soon. “I want to tell all the girls to continue their mission to get an education,” she said.
In this earlier, extraordinary interview (in Urdu, unfortunately no sub-titles), in response to a question about her own courage, Malala replied: “I’m not the only one. All the girls studying with me are brave”. She is right.
Excellent CNN report about the rally in support of Malala in Karachi – well done MQM. They had signatures condemning the Taliban on a banner the length of 20 football fields. It’s not just Pakistan though. The incident has touched people around the world.
Two events in Cambridge, MA tomorrow, THURS OCT 18:
1. 6-7.30 pm, Bell Hall, Belfer Building, Harvard Kennedy School: The Pakistan Student Caucus is organising a film screening of ‘Class Dismissed- the story of Malala’, the New York Times documentary shot in 2009. Adam Ellick, the New York Times reporter who followed her for 6 months in 2009 as the Taliban closed her school is a Mid-Career Kennedy School student and will be present at the screening, to be followed by a discussion.
2. 7.30 pm: Candlelight vigil at Harvard Square (in front of Out of Town News) for Malala and all girls around the world fighting for their right to be educated – by Asha for Education Boston/MIT Chapters
From Australia, 11-year old Maria writes, “Our teacher in Australia even showed a slide show to the girls and said “She is the bravest girl ” she also said that you were a great role model and people like you should be instead of beauty queens. I am from Pakistan but all my friends in my Australian school think you are great so get better soon u make pakistan proud”. This is just one of the comments posted online at the moderated message board thoughtfully set up by the Birmingham hospital where Malala is being cared for. To post your own messages, send her cards, letters and gifts, as well as donations click this link. The hospital has also set up an official updates site.
Some friends have also set up the Malala Yusufzai Family Fund aiming to help her family out in the long term, after the issue has died out from the public eye. It has been set up by friends of hers, including some whom I know personally.
The UN Special Envoy for Education has initiated a campaign called “I am Malala“, using this incident to raise awareness about the world’s 61+ million children who are out of school. The website includes a couple of short videos, including a lovely interview of Malala, and a short documentary (in which it’s nice to see some familiar faces in the opening shot – Sheen Farrukh, Suhaee Abro, Shams of HRCP, Kausar S.K. and others).
An online petition urging protection for school children in northern Pakistan, initiated by Safe World for Women, has been updated to incorporate the attack on Malala.
Avaaz has initiated a million signature petition to be hand-delivered to the Pakistan President, demanding that Pakistan to provide education for every girl.
In Boston, families of Charlestown organised a vigil for Malala at the historically symbolic Bunker Hill, on Sunday – see my blog post with pix.
Here’s the link to a lovely poem by Prof. Badri Raina in New Delhi - “May you be blessed, child of indomitable soul…” – and an article by Bhatta Som in Aman ki Asha on the support in India for Malala, the attack on whom exposes the global malady of misogyny.
I was on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook on Monday (with Owais Tohid and Samina Ahmed in Pakistan). You can hear the discussion at this link. Also on the website is the link to a touching and informative article about Malala by Shehla Anjum who spent a few days with her at her home in Swat in April this year.
There’s much much more out there about this issue, but I thought I’d just send this quick roundup.
Oh, and of course, the usual maligning campaign has also begun – just like after the Swat flogging (first they proudly owned the act, then called it a farce and a fraud and a conspiracy by the CIA). No need to pay too much attention to it but you can check out these two pieces for a flavour:
`Pakistanis love conspiracy theories‘ – by Shamil Shams – and After a Bullet in the Head, Assaults on Malala’s Character – includes a mention of my spat with Samia Raheel Qazi (daughter of the former Jamat-i-Islami chief) on twitter after her tweets
implicitly justifying the attack on Malala by posting a misleading caption under her photo with Richard Holbrooke.
Old habits die hard. These right-wingers have always been quick to twist facts and malign anyone who is doing anything good for the country, and they’re predictably at it still.