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Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, born in 1997, is a Pakistani activist known for fighting for education rights for girls under the Taliban regime. She was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize for her cause of education. On October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Malala in her head and neck in an assassination attempt. Pakistan authorities subsequently offered an US$100,000 bounty on capture of the attacker. She remains in critical condition. 

CommentInsight & Opinion

Malala shooting exposes a troubling double standard

Hari Kumar says clerics are quick to defend against attacks, but mute against atrocities

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2012, 3:09am

The Muslim community throughout the world was in uproar two months back when a crudely made movie mocking the Prophet Mohammed surfaced on YouTube. From peaceful protests in places like Hong Kong, Germany and London to provocative rallies in Australia to chaos and violence leading to loss of lives in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East, the anger of Muslims took several routes.

They were rightly indignant about insults aimed at the sacred symbols of their religion, and Muslim religious leaders blamed it on the double standards of US freedom of speech and Islamophobia of the West. Non-Muslims also condemned the movie.

Now Muslims face another major incident involving their faith. A Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, who was championing the cause of education for girls, was attacked by a group claiming to be champions of the religion. Gunmen sought her out from the school bus while she was returning home and shot her in front of other children. She survived and is recovering in a hospital in Britain.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility and, more shockingly, threatened to shoot her again when she returns, while saying her family were also legitimate targets. All this because Malala wanted girls to have the right to education.

The majority of her countrymen were outraged at this attack. A candlelight vigil and a couple of mass protests were held in the country. Government and the powerful army promised to take action against her attackers and offered a substantial reward to anyone providing information that could help bring the attackers to justice.

But, unlike the passionate protests that continued for days across the Muslim world two months ago, there were hardly any reports of demonstrations or condemnation of this heinous act committed in the name of their religion. Community and religious leaders whose outrage was so vocal were deafeningly silent this time around, from Australia to Hong Kong to Europe.

Leaders across the world raised their voices to condemn this attack. But very few Islamic religious leaders joined them, publicly at least. This silence on their part is one reason a twisted image of the religion persists in the minds of sceptics.

Islam stands for peace and the salvation of humans. But, as with every religion, often groups with narrow and parochial views flag themselves as its true custodians, distorting the religion's image.

Religious leaders everywhere have a right to protest against attacks on their religion. But they also have a duty to condemn crimes committed in the name of their religion. Their silence is almost equal to condoning such acts.

Hari Kumar is a Post journalist


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Yes. The islam clerics were "deafeningly silent" over this shooting incident. But I think for a good reason. They do not embrace the West-originated value (widely accepted globally and seemingly so self-evidently right and superior) which calls for education for all women with a view towards opening up public service and all varieties of employment to all muslim women. Why should they (or anyone) shout at the top of their lungs for a girl who champions a cause they distrust?
And, while one should not dismiss a 14-year-old girl's judgment on the choice-worthiness of the Isam traditions accompanying her growing up only on account of her young age, I (a non-member of any religious and political organization in China) for one, suspect she has been used as a very handy tool for further infiltration of western cultural values and denigration of traditional muslim values and practices.
I understand that today westernization or Americanization of the entire world in social values is inevitable now (just like Islamicization of west and inner Asia was inexorable in certain historical periods). The process is fairly advanced and will deepen over time, but I think this represents not necessarily a liberation as opposed to a narrowing of one's perception. Is there such a thing as unalloyed progress? Is education only for men (itself hardly true of traditional China and Islam) self-evidently bad? We should not jump to conclusion according to western mindset only.


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