Because she was secular

A 14-year-old schoolgirl in the Swat valley in Pakistan has been shot in the head. The Taliban says it did it. Malala Yousafzai is also a campaigner for girls’ education. She was attacked on her way home from school in Mingora. She’s reported to be out of danger.

Ehsanullah Ehsan told BBC Urdu that they attacked her because she was anti-Taliban and secular, adding that she would not be spared.

Clear and to the point.

She kept a diary for BBC Urdu starting at age 11.

Correspondents say she earned the admiration of many across Pakistan for her courage in speaking out about life under the brutal rule of Taliban militants.

One poignant entry reflects on the Taliban decree banning girls’ education: “Since today was the last day of our school, we decided to play in the playground a bit longer. I am of the view that the school will one day reopen but while leaving I looked at the building as if I would not come here again.”

She has since said that she wants to study law and enter politics when she grows up. “I dreamt of a country where education would prevail,” she said.

The Beeb has some of it translated into English.

Saturday 3 January 2009

I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban’s edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.

A schoolgirl. 14. She wanted to go to school, and she wanted other girls to be able to go to school. Bang.



  1. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Malala Yousafzai has shown more courage in her life than I ever have.

  2. AsqJames says

    I’m left in awe at just how much courage and strength of character Malala has displayed over several years. For a young girl to publicly challenge the extreme patriarchal culture of that region, always aware that the likely response to her simply voicing opinions was violence…it simply boggles my mind.

  3. says

    I know. It’s so…I don’t have the words to say what it is that this happened to her. That people did this to her and will do it again with the aim of killing her if they can.

  4. says

    How in fucking hell does anyone shoot a 14-year old schoolgirl?

    (/Yes, rhetorical question. Technically, yes, I know. But still: how in fucking hell?)

  5. says

    Actually no. I heard an extended report on BBC World an hour ago, and a cop said that what happened is: some men stopped the van and one got on and asked who was Malala, and when he was told, he shot her. So it was face to face.

  6. ianmacdougall says

    The attempt on the life of Malala Yousafzai shows that Pakistani society is divided on sex lines the way the Deep South of the US and (rural and tropical) Australia were on colour lines.

    So where is the Pakistani integrationist movement?

  7. ianmacdougall says

    So where is the Pakistanis integrationis movement? Not too far away it seems.

    ‘Although Pakistanis have grown used to the all-too-regular horrors of Taliban bombings and attacks around the country, some media figures said the attempt on Yousafzai’s life could be a “watershed”.

    ‘Murtaza Salangi, the director of Pakistan Radio, said people were “standing up to be counted as if this was their own daughter … I think it is a watershed moment because the outpouring of sympathy and support for this young girl is just unprecedented. She could be a rallying poster for people who think that extremism and terrorism is the biggest challenge, even an existential challenge, for this country.”

    ‘He said the mood of revulsion extended beyond just the “educated elite”, saying the switchboard at Radio Pakistan’s Peshawar studio had “lit up like Christmas lights” when phone lines were opened for people across the country to contact a phone-in programme.’

  8. says

    The attempt on the life of Malala Yousafzai shows that Pakistani society is divided on sex lines the way the Deep South of the US and (rural and tropical) Australia were on colour lines.

    It depends on which part of Pakistan you’re in. In big cities like Lahore and Islamabad you can see plenty of men and women mixing without the hijab. Western fashions and trends are popular. The Taliban and other fundamentalists have always been strong in the rural, traditional village areas, but now they are spreading through major cities.

  9. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    …but now they are spreading through major cities.

    Hasn’t that been a problem for some time? I mean wasn’t the the Zia regime the force that really validated Islamic fundamentalism in a top-down fashion for the first time?

  10. williamshart says

    Malala is a hero for our times in the struggle against theocracy and injustice; hate and oppression. I hope her family will be granted immediate asylum in a safe (or safer) country so that she may live to fight another day. At the tender age of 14, She has all the makings of a great democratic leader -wise, resolute and charismatic.

    An encouraging reaction within Pakistan itself has been seen in the film coverage of large street demonstrations not only deploring the obscene, cowardly shooting a girl, but also in support of Malala and her cause to raise consciousness about effective rights for all women to education.

    I was a tad surprised to learn that Malala has built such a large following in such a conservative Islamic country – especially among women but men as well. Upon reflection I realized that Pakistan has a paradoxical history of permitting women to exercise power in government, business and other professions. Today we see women increasingly exercising power there over popular opinion. There is reason to believe that rising generations of young people -internet savy and wielding the tools of social media- and supported by enlightened citizens of all ages, will reach a critical mass that will reform the system both from the bottom up and from the top down. Pitted against daunting challenges of tyranny, corruption, poverty, ignorance and religious extremism, Malala’s ideal of a government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. (Abraham Lincoln said it well enough.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *