Having happily grown up in the west with the copious luxuries of life that I have always taken for granted, it is difficult for me to comprehend that there might be others in the world who do not share my democratic beliefs. I have always been able to choose for myself, have never been forced to simply live by somebody else’s ruling. I have been free to conduct my life as I deem fit and even if I have made mistakes, I am happy that I have been able to make them within the boundaries of a free society.
Not everybody is that lucky. Not everybody gets to choose for themselves.
Less than three weeks ago, on October 9th, a fourteen year old girl was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. A masked gunman shouted ‘Which one of you is Malala? Speak up; otherwise I will shoot you all’. Two other girls were also wounded in the shooting: Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzen, although much less severely.
The Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Malala Yousafzai “is the symbol of the infidels and obscenity,” adding that if she survived, they would target her again.
On 15 October, Malala was airlifted to the United Kingdom for further treatment, approved by both her doctors and family. She is now being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. One of the specialties of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is being the treatment of military personnel injured in conflict.
Born of July 12th, 1997, Malala Yousafzai is a school student and educational activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Her crime: nothing more than I have already stated. In Mingora, the Taliban have set an edict that no girls can attend school after January 15th, 2009. At that time they had already blown up more than a hundred girls’ schools.
I fail to understand how anybody could shoot Malala Yousafzai in cold blood for nothing more than her wanting to go to school, to learn to read and write, for wanting to better herself and the lives of millions of other girls, who are not considered worthy of an education.
Former British Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown launched a United Nations petition in Malala’s name, using the slogan ‘I am Malala’ and demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015, with the hope that “girls like Malala everywhere will soon be going to school”. Brown said he would hand the petition to President Asif Ali Zardari when he visits Islamabad in November.
The petition contains three demands:
We call on Pakistan to agree to a plan to deliver education for every child.
We call on all countries to outlaw discrimination against girls.
We call on international organizations to ensure the world’s 61 million out-of-school children are in education by the end of 2015.
We can count our blessings that we live in the west, free of such tyranny and repression. Sometimes we may think we are hard-done-by, that freedom is far from our reach. But we are the lucky ones. Our children can all go to school, receive educations and walk proudly toward adulthood.
The story of Malala Yousafzai is an important one to be told. Just a child, she was prepared to stand up against Taliban repression. She knew what could happen and still, she fought. And now in a hospital, in the west, this brave little girl has touched the hearts of the free world.
There is a Facebook page, entitled, ‘Malala Yousafzai’, where one can go in and comment or quite simply, ‘like’.
The world is changing all the time and there will always be brave men and women, who are prepared to fight for freedom. This little girl though, took it to the extreme.
Thank you for your sacrifice, Malala. May you regain your strength, live a good life and may you see your dreams come true.