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News Analysis

Wounded Pakistani Girl - More Powerful Symbol Than Ever

Thu, February 7, 2013

Ryan Mauro

The Taliban and like-minded Islamists should be scared. Malala Yousafzai, only 14-years old when she was shot in the head by a Taliban terrorist for daring to promote girls’ education, is recovering from surgery in the U.K. and is already promoting the Malala Fund to support her cause and vowing to continue her fight.

She believes that God has given her a “second life” for this cause. Speaking in Urdu and Pashtu, she said, “I want to serve the people and I want every girl, every child, to be educated for that reason we have organized the Malala Fund.”  The Fund was set up by Vital Voices with a $10 million donation from Pakistan.

Since the age of 11, she has been blogging about life under the Taliban, girls’ education and her quest to become a doctor or politician. She wasn’t only dreaming about women’s rights; she was writing in a public forum about becoming an example of their fulfillment. Few adults in an area like the Swat Valley of Pakistan would have that kind of bravery. Much fewer children would have that dream, and even fewer would write about it.

“I have the right to education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up,” she said.

She doesn’t believe her rights are offered to her by government or anyone else. Rights aren’t to be earned or loaned. We are born with them.

Her message struck a nerve. She became noticed. And that made her a target.

A Taliban terrorist boarded her school bus with the intention of destroying her — not just as a person, but as a growing symbol of what Taliban-type Islamists hate and fear. The Taliban has destroyed over 200 girls’ schools. There have been at least two mass poisonings of female students in Afghanistan.

The Taliban said her crime was "promoting secularism" and "Western thinking." She wasn’t talking about U.S. forces in Afghanistan or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She talked about values, not politics. This was an ideological attack because this is an ideological war.

The attack on Malala was a defeat for the Taliban. It makes them look weak; so weak that they are intimidated by the words of a 14-year old girl. Not only did she survive, but she’s a more powerful symbol than she was before.

Before, it was her words that inspired resolve against the Taliban and their ilk. You had to go to her blog. Now, you just look at her wounded face. You listen to her voice. You read about her activism. The Taliban gave her a platform that overshadows the one they originally feared.

Worry lies behind the Taliban’s bravado. When we posted an article about Malala on our Facebook page, it didn’t take long for anti-American users to attack her and the article and, in some cases, threaten her. Unsurprisingly, multiple comments came from Pakistan. Some praised the Taliban, while others claimed she was part of an anti-Muslim Western conspiracy.

Malala is back and more determined than ever. And even if the Taliban were to take her life, her story cannot be erased and her work will live on. Unfortunately for the Taliban, values and rights can’t be murdered.



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Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News. This article may not be republished without expressed written permission from ClarionProject.org