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The power of ignorance

Shehrbano Taseer – daughter of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab who was shot to death by his own bodyguard because he supported a Christian woman accused of blasphemy – on Malala Yousafzai.

(By the way the daily update from the hospital says what it’s said every day for a week – she continues to make progress.)

For months a team of Taliban sharpshooters studied the daily route that Malala took to school, and, once the attack was done, the Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan gleefully claimed responsibility, saying Malala was an American spy who idolized the “black devil Obama.” She had spoken against the Taliban, they falsely said, and vowed to shoot her again, should she survive.

I don’t think it is falsely – didn’t she say she liked to fantasize about being challenged by them and responding by smacking them in the faces with her sandal? – and her doing so is what makes her so heroic. If anybody deserves to be spoken against, it’s the Taliban. The Taliban is evil.

And what’s with the black devil nonsense? They dislike Obama’s race on top of everything else?

The power of ignorance is frightening. My father, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered last January after he stood up for Aasia Noreen, a voiceless, forgotten Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. My father, the governor of Punjab province at the time, believed that our country’s blasphemy laws had been misused; that far too frequently, they were taken advantage of to settle scores and personal vendettas.

In the days before my father’s murder, fanatics had called for a fatwa against him and had burned him in effigy at large demonstrations. His confessed shooter, a 26-year-old man named Mumtaz Qadri, said he had been encouraged to kill my father after hearing a sermon by a cleric, who, frothing at the mouth, screeched to 150 swaying men to kill my father, the “blasphemer.” Qadri, a police guard, had been assigned to protect my father. Instead, on the afternoon of Jan. 4, my brother Shehryar’s 25th birthday, he killed my father, firing 27 bullets into his back as he walked home.

They can do that. All it takes is a gun and the opportunity. Ignorant, stupid, unthinking people can kill thoughtful people if they decide to. Ignorant vicious clerics can work them up to do so.

What the attack on Malala makes clear is that this is really a battle over education. A repressive mindset has been allowed to flourish in Pakistan because of the madrassa system set up by power-hungry clerics. It’s a deeply rooted indoctrination, and it sickens me to see ancient religious traditions undermined by a harsher form of religion barely a generation old. These madrassa, or religious schools headed by clerics, are the breeding ground of Islamic radicalism. The clerics don’t teach critical thinking. Instead, they disseminate hate. These clerics are raising merchants of hatred who believe in a very right-wing and radical Islam, to hail people like Osama bin Laden and Mumtaz Qadri as heroes. They train children how to use guns and bombs, and how not to live but to die.

That’s all it takes. There’s such a thin membrane between relatively normal life and children taught to be suicide bombs.

Encouraged by her father, Ziauddin, a schoolmaster, Malala quickly became known as she spoke out on the right to an education. Ziauddin had two sons also, but he told friends it was his daughter who had a unique spark. She wanted to study medicine, but he persuaded her that when the time came she should enter politics so she might help create a more progressive society—at the heart of which was education for all. In Pakistan, 25 million children are out of school, and the country has the lowest youth literacy rate in the world.

As Ziauddin explained his motivation at one point: “Islam teaches us that getting an education is compulsory for every girl and wife, for every woman and man. This is the teaching of the holy Prophet,” he said. “Education is a light and ignorance is a darkness, and we must go from darkness into light.”

Ziauddin “has given Malala a love, strength, and confidence that’s rare,” agrees Samar Minallah Khan, a Pakistani journalist and filmmaker who knows the family. “She has an incredible spirit and a mind of her own because of the confidence he has given her.”

In three short years, Malala became the chairperson of the District Child Assembly in Swat, was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu, was the runner-up of the International Children’s Peace Prize, and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. More recently she started to organize the Malala Education Foundation, a fund to ensure poor girls from Swat could go to school.

Now that’s a genuine tall poppy.

 

Comments

  1. Rodney Nelson says

    Malala is an intelligent, gutsy girl who wants a better life for herself and others. The Taliban, a reactionary force, tried to stop her.

  2. sunny says

    As Ziauddin explained his motivation at one point: “Islam teaches us that getting an education is compulsory for every girl and wife, for every woman and man. This is the teaching of the holy Prophet,” he said.

    Is this actually true? If it is, why are Mo’s instructions being ignored?

  3. sheila says

    @sunny. I think it probably comes down to how you define “everybody” and “education”. I’ve a horrible feeling that the Taliban would say that getting an education is compulsory for every MAN, and that an education means learning to agree with the Taliban.

  4. says

    Regarding the last paragraph:

    Wait… She’s HOW fucking old? I had no idea she had done all of thoses things. I did’nt realize that she was already a known public figure. Wow. That better explains the public outrage against the taliban… I was wondering why this incident had so much more traction than all the other daily stories of young women and girls being tortured and killed… The world lost a great advocate (unless she is able to recover enough to carry on). It’s maudlin and sad that her greatest ‘acheivement’ will be her martyrdom, considering all the other wonderful humanitarian things she had already accomplished… AT 14!!!
    Goddamn I hate those motherfuckers!

  5. barrypearson says

    #4 ashleybell
    The world lost a great advocate (unless she is able to recover enough to carry on).

    From the Daily Mail (yes, I know!)

    From the Doctor in charge of the unit where she is being treated:

    Dr David Rosser, who is treating the teenager, said Malala was continuing to make very good progress clinically. He said she was walking with very little help, eating well and talking. He said both her short and long term memory seemed to be fine.

    ‘We’re very much in a phase of her care that is about her recovery, both physical and psychological. She’s very tired but she managed a big smile for her mum and dad and her brothers.’

    He said she would have reconstructive surgery on her skull when she was strong enough, which he said could be ‘within weeks’. The reconstruction will involve either reinserting bone or using a titanium plate.

    When asked about her long term recovery, Dr Rosser said: ‘She’s likely to make a full recovery.’

    From her father:

    Mr Yousufzai, who was accompanied by Malala’s 12-year-old brother Khushal Khan also thanked hospital staff and members of the public for their help and support for his daughter.

    Mr Yousufzai said the family had received regular updates from Dr David Rosser, who is treating Malala at the hospital, while they were in Pakistan. He said: ‘She got the right treatment, at the right place, at the right time. She is recovering at an encouraging speed and we are very happy.’

    He said she had also asked her father on the phone to bring her schoolbooks so she could study for her exams.

    Wow!

  6. johnthedrunkard says

    Leftist apologists for islamism tend to forget how deeply racist many/most muslim societies really are.

  7. Lyanna says

    Well, yes, they hate Obama for his race. They are Arab-aspirants (though not ethnically Arab themselves) and anti-black racism is unfortunately rampant in the Arab world.

  8. octopod says

    Hmm, I suppose given that Israeli society is so racist against its African inhabitants (even the Jewish ones), I should hardly be surprised that Arab society is too. Still, a bit startling that it’s the same kind of racism we see here.

  9. khms says

    Hmm, I suppose given that Israeli society is so racist against its African inhabitants (even the Jewish ones), I should hardly be surprised that Arab society is too. Still, a bit startling that it’s the same kind of racism we see here.

    Seems fairly unsurprising to me (Euroamericans vs. wrt. Arabs, that is). Same religious roots, same slavery roots, same colonialistic attitudes wrt. Africa – why would you expect a difference?

    Of course, there’s also the point that much of the racist attitude Obama gets internationally is because he’s the boss of the USA, a country that seems to go to ridiculous lengths to make enemies.

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