Malala Yousafzai

Clerics issue fatwa on Taliban who shot Malala Yousafzai, 14

Islamic scholars denounce Taliban's attempt to justify bid to kill young activist on religious grounds

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 October, 2012, 3:14am

A group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan have issued a fatwa against the Taliban gunmen who tried to kill a teenager famous for campaigning for the right of girls to an education.

The Islamic scholars from the Sunni Ittehad Council publicly denounced attempts by the Pakistani Taliban to mount religious justifications for the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, 14, and two of her classmates on Tuesday.

A Taliban spokesman said they would try to kill Malala again if she recovered from her injuries.

The attack has left Malala in a critical condition at a Pakistani military hospital after surgery to remove a bullet from near her spinal cord.

She showed signs of improvement by moving her limbs yesterday, the military said, though she remains unconscious and on a ventilator.

"The sedation given to Malala was reduced today so that neurosurgeons could do their clinical assessment and as a result of it Malala responded and moved her hands and feet," military spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said.

A team of specialist doctors are providing "constant care" to Malala and all "contingencies" were in place in case they decide to move her abroad for further treatment, the general said.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf visited Malala on Friday, paying tribute to her and the two other girls who were also wounded when a gunman boarded their school bus and opened fire.

"It was not a crime against an individual but a crime against humanity and an attack on our national and social values," he said, pledging renewed vigour in Pakistan's struggle with Islamist militancy.

Schools opened with prayers for Malala on Friday and special prayers were held at mosques across the country for her speedy recovery at the country's top military hospital in the city of Rawalpindi.

The shooting horrified people in Pakistan and around the world.

Schools in Afghanistan also opened yesterday with special prayers for Malala's quick recovery.

"To show sympathy to Malala Yousafzai around 9.5 million students all over the country in 15,500 schools and education centres offered prayers for her quick recovery," education ministry spokesman said.

Police have arrested several suspects. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Friday that the two gunmen who staged the attack were not among those arrested. But he said investigators had identified the masterminds of the shooting and efforts were under way to capture all those involved.

The Taliban spokesman, Sirajuddin Ahmad, said Malala's family had been warned three times - the most recent warning coming last week - before the decision was made to kill her.

Ahmad said local Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah and his deputies selected three attackers, including two sharpshooters, who carefully studied the girl's route home from school.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, The New York Times