If Malala Yousafzai is honoured the Nobel Peace Prize, how much more of a target will she become?
Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by a Taliban militant because of her open and candid support for girl education in Pakistan and her criticism of the fundamentalist Islamic group, is running for the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced today.
Malala earned fame in 2009 when she wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu service on girls’ education. It was on 9th October, 2012, that the world witnessed the ferocious episode when she was riding a bus from school and was shot in the head in an attempted assassination by the Taliban group.
The Taliban had said that Malala was shot for insulting Islam, not for her blunt support for girls’ education, and that the group would attempt to attack her again.
After one year, the teenager stands positive of her deeds to back her country’s young girls by demanding the education system to flow liberally for them. Malala persists to glow in spite of the fatal attack by insurgents and she is likely to become the youngest winner ever of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Malala on Thursday won the European Union’s annual human rights award, Sakharov Prize, beating fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.
The Sakharov Prize, worth about 50,000 euros (approx $67,000), is honoured by the European Parliament yearly in remembrance of Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov for supporting human rights issues.
In an interview to BBC, Malala said that peace and education are undividable, as lacking one you cannot hold the other. “I hope that a day will come when the people of Pakistan will be free, they will have the rights, there will be peace and every girl and every boy will be going to school,” she said.
The Taliban said on Thursday that the teenage campaigner has done nothing to earn the esteemed EU rights award and pledged to try again to kill her.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid told AFP over telephone from a hidden location, “She has done nothing. The enemies of Islam are awarding her because she has left Islam and has become secular. She is getting awards because she is working against Islam. Her struggle against Islam is the main reason of getting these awards.”
Reportedly, he also reiterated the TTP’s warning of attempting to kill Malala even in America or the UK.
Malala had shifted to Britain in the wake of the shooting for treatment and to carry on her education in protection.
Known among the world leaders and celebrities for her bravery, Malala had addressed the UN and this week published an autobiography “I am Malala”, written with journalist Christina Lamb. It has gone on sale in Pakistan and TTP has declared of attacking the bookshops selling it.
Definitely, attacking a 16-year-old girl for death merely for conveying support for educating girls is appalling. No contemporary cultured society should bear such outlook.
But these are not redundant threats. The Taliban means what it says. Malala’s high profile, her rebuttal to back off in the face of such intimidation, could get her killed.
In some ways, there are reflections in Malala’s story of author Salman Rushdie’s. He also spent years living under a death threat from Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini over his book “The Satanic Verses.” Being an adult it was hard for Rushdie. How difficult must it be for a teenage girl living under such a dark cloud?
Is it right for her to struggle so openly in such an unsafe atmosphere or was she push into the public eye by adults obsessed by the power of a child gazing down the Taliban?
Maybe no one can reply those questions. But if Malala is honoured the Nobel Peace Prize today, how much more of a target will she become?