How Malala Yousafzai May Affect Pakistan’s Violent Culture Wars

The Taliban has declared that the education of girls is only a small part of its attack on Malala. It is the secularist movement she represents that it wants destroyed — and that is a more volatile debate in a deeply sectarian country

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Shakil Adil / AP

A supporter of Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement, center, reacts while she and other women chant prayers in support of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai

A larger battlefield in Pakistan looms for the group that claims responsibility for shooting Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old advocate of education for girls. Even as the young woman lay in critical condition, with “a 70% chance of survival” according to one local newspaper, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) vowed it would attack her again if she survives, according to a statement from their spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan. Indeed, for the TTP, the stakes are broader than schooling for girls and women. “If anyone thinks that Malala is targeted because of education,” said a TTP statement, “that’s absolutely wrong and propaganda by the media. Malala is targeted because of her pioneer role in preaching secularism and so-called enlightened moderation. And whosoever will commit so in the future too will be targeted again by TTP.”

The Taliban may have been making a political play with the shooting. After all, Pakistanis, in the recent past, have reacted ambivalently to violence against representatives of “secularism and so-called enlightened moderation.” Last year, the then governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was assassinated by one of his own security guards — Mumtaz Qadri — who was incensed over his boss’ support of a Christian woman who was facing charges of blasphemy, a legal charge in the eyes of Pakistani law. The assassination left Pakistan divided between “liberals” thoroughly opposed to the murder and crowds — including lawyers — who thronged the streets to throw rose petals on the vehicle that transported Qadri to court.

(MORE: Malala Yousafzai: The Latest Victim in the War on Children in Pakistan)

Later that same year, Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti — himself a Christian — was assassinated in Islamabad when Taliban gunmen opened fire on his car. The murderers left the scene with pamphlets that labeled the minister a “Christian infidel.” Bhatti — like Taseer — had spoken out against the blasphemy laws.

In July, Farida Afridi, 25, the founder of a nonprofit that educated Pakistani women about their legal rights, was gunned down in broad daylight in Peshawar, a Taliban stronghold. She was shot in the head, reportedly, after a motorbike with two men drove up behind her, opened fire and sped away. No one has claimed responsibility for her death. “How do you hold assassins accountable when your code of ethics is directly in conflict?” asks Hira Nabi, a Lahore artist, exasperated by the country’s ideological divide. “How do you combat a way of existence that doesn’t recognize your right to live?”

But if the TTP was hoping for more populist division in Pakistan with the attack on a child, they appear to have miscalculated. Almost all Pakistanis — even those who have continued to support the deeply sectarian blasphemy laws — were appalled. Indeed, the widespread political sympathy for Malala has given the so-called liberals public space to speak out — even though such opposition to the Taliban and defending the rights of minorities almost guarantees the critic being added to a Taliban hit list. The attack, says Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, a youth activist, “is a wake-up call for those who patronize with and are apologetic toward the Taliban. [The incident] unveils how the society and the state are unable to protect its peace-loving daughters and how the threat from violent radicalism is still pretty much alive [in Pakistan].”

(PHOTOS: The Taliban’s War in Pakistan)

Sana Saleem, another activist and blogger, used the incident to further castigate the Taliban — and a government unsure of how to proceed in Pakistan’s violent culture wars. “While courageous women continue to fight for their rights, [the Taliban] will do everything possible to silence them. This shouldn’t be ignored; the state should do everything possible to protect human-rights advocates around the country.”

It helps the secularist cause that Malala had a winning personality and the epitome of childish innocence. “I had dinner with Malala and her family and found her to be a very awe-inspiring little girl,” says Todd Shea, who works for an NGO that established a hospital in Pakistan after last year’s devastating floods. “She spoke perfect English and displayed an elegance, intelligence and grace beyond her years. This incident has really broken my heart but I hope it finally galvanizes Pakistan as a nation to end the extremism that leads to the most depraved crimes against humanity, such as shooting innocent schoolgirls simply because they choose to demand the most basic rights most people take for granted.”

Perhaps so. But while most Pakistanis are horrified that the Taliban attacked a young girl, some are wondering whether it is enough to change deep-seated sentiments about the role religion must play in governing the country. At a gathering to protest the attack on Malala, Nabi the artist says “sentiments and loyalties were difficult to gauge.” Nabi recalls, “I tried to hand a candle to one policeman, asking him to join us. He replied that he was part of the protest but would not take the candle.”

MORE: The Taliban Halts Polio Vaccines — and Pakistan’s Kids Will Pay

84 comments
kms123
kms123

The efforts of the Saudis in propogating the hate filled Salafi ideology worldwide using their enormous oil wealth is paying off.

Jeff Kuryk
Jeff Kuryk

As a cancer on the greater body of humanity, it's nearly impossible to effectively destroy religious gangsters such as Al

Qaeda and the Taliban without fully grasping the nature of religious indoctrination as outlined in the YouTube video, "Bikinis and Burqas:Narrowing the Gap."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

JS
JS

A Taliban bomber has killed over 20 Pakistanis yesterday. It makes me think that the Govt of Pakistan is not very serious about apprehending the Talibans. ISI, an organization of the Military is prtoecting the Talibans, just like ISI protected an hid Osama Bin Laden for several years. Sad for the nation of Pakistan. 

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

That is a baseless and rather illogical accusation. 

JS
JS

Why is this baseless. See the remarks below from Arush. Pakistani's are tired of Talibans. They need to be cleaned out of Pakistan which will take a violent action. And has to be a forceful one most likely by the Govt and ISI. Time for action.

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

We are tired of Talibans but to say that the Military is protecting Talibans is a very baseless accusation and especially if you have no proof that can support this accusation! As far as ISI hiding Osama Bin Laden is concerned so I would like to remind you that Pentagon too was attacked and was hit by a plane, I am sure you are aware of the level of security there, nobody started accusing it for conducting the attacks! The thing is that there can be several issues raised on this subject! How was it that they did not know about the 9/11 incident but they knew exactly where Osama was in Pakistan? And then to top it all, they came, they killed him and then they disposed off the body! Why? Did they even find him? There is no proof. Time for action? Where are you from? What do you know about Pakistan? Do you have any idea how many operations have been conducted for far for this War on(of) Terrorism in Pakistan? Do you have any idea how many soldiers and civilians have lost their lives? You don't! Because all you see is what the media feeds you! We on the other hand are living this life so don't tell me that eradicating the Taliban is not a serious issue in Pakistan. 

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

Why do my comments need to be approved by a moderator??! Freedom of speech??? My comments have to be approved now because i am defending something i believe in?

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

perhaps you are writing a load of rubbish ! lol

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

I don't want to waste my time and effort on a person like you! You did not curse me but you insulted the person who i regard! You insulted my religion! You are spreading hatred for my religion! You are defaming my Holy Prophet! And yet i, being a Muslim, am a fundamentalist! Yet my religion spreads hatred! Yet my religion isn't tolerant! You are a two faced! A hypocrite! You support humanity but not when it comes to Muslims! Americans have been butchering people in the name of war! Everyday Muslims die at the hands of Israel! But they are saints! You pick out verses out of context and act like you are a learned man! And if you had actually read the Quran you would have known what you were talking about! You talk crap but then again that is all you can do! I hope you find peace! As for me i am done debating, you are not a person who can have a logical and serious discussion! All you can do is accuse others, distort information, insult Islam and disrespect the Prophet! And you are exactly like the Talibans! Extremist and Pathetic, someone who uses religion for their own benefits and distort information so that they can gain from it! You are intolerant and when someone disagrees with you you lash out so don't tell you are a humanist! You have no respect for human life and why would i behead you? These practices never prevailed in Islam and neither they will! Please don't confuse between practices that were popular in England and France in earlier times! You can go on with your bullshit now! I will not answer now! Go ahead and embarrass yourself and have fun doing so! 

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

Don't distort information like the Taliban for you own benefit! 

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

distort information ? what information ? this load of crap from quran is information? information is what you find in physics books and maths not quran with made up stories by a pervert rapist called mohammad ! 

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

islam is distortion of facts ! islam just like its prophet is a fraud  and a sick ideology . 

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

Quran( 2:222)And they ask you about menstruation. Say, "It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves."

(2:230)

And if he has divorced her [for the third time], then she is not lawful to him afterward until [after] she marries a husband other than him. And if the latter husband divorces her [or dies], there is no blame upon the woman and her former husband for returning to each other if they think that they can keep [within] the limits of Allah . These are the limits of Allah , which He makes clear to a people who know.

(4:3)

And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].

(4:11)

Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females. But if there are [only] daughters, two or more, for them is two thirds of one's estate. And if there is only one, for her is half. And for one's parents, to each one of them is a sixth of his estate if he left children. But if he had no children and the parents [alone] inherit from him, then for his mother is one third. And if he had brothers [or sisters], for his mother is a sixth, after any bequest he [may have] made or debt. Your parents or your children - you know not which of them are nearest to you in benefit. [These shares are] an obligation [imposed] by Allah . Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

(4:43)

O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying or in a state of janabah, except those passing through [a place of prayer], until you have washed [your whole body]. And if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and find no water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and your hands [with it]. Indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Forgiving.

(4:129)

And you will never be able to be equal [in feeling] between wives, even if you should strive [to do so]. So do not incline completely [toward one] and leave another hanging. And if you amend [your affairs] and fear Allah - then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.

(5:6)

O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

you are supposed to hide this load of crap not expose them ! you are doing my job ! have you been drinking alcohol or sniffing something ? you are committing gonah !!! lol

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

you are making my job easier! you are supposed to support islam and use quote positive not vise versa ! 

your allah must be sick idiot together with your prophet ! the more i read quran the more i realised what a savage ,backwarded and barbaric ideology it was and of course is !

i wonder , if i were in pakistan what would you do me ? behead me right away without any doubt ! or burn me alive ! you know that but are playing the pacifists´game , pretending to be compassionate ! guess what , the world is waking up and seeing the lies and fraud behind this sickening religion !

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

Quran( 2:282) O you who have believed, when you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down. And let a scribe write [it] between you in justice. Let no scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him. So let him write and let the one who has the obligation dictate. And let him fear Allah , his Lord, and not leave anything out of it. But if the one who has the obligation is of limited understanding or weak or unable to dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate in justice. And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses - so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her. And let not the witnesses refuse when they are called upon. And do not be [too] weary to write it, whether it is small or large, for its [specified] term. That is more just in the sight of Allah and stronger as evidence and more likely to prevent doubt between you, except when it is an immediate transaction which you conduct among yourselves. For [then] there is no blame upon you if you do not write it. And take witnesses when you conclude a contract. Let no scribe be harmed or any witness. For if you do so, indeed, it is [grave] disobedience in you. And fear Allah . And Allah teaches you. And Allah is Knowing of all things.

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

Lewd women are to be confined to their houses until death. 4:15

When a man dies, his wives can't have sex for four months and ten days. After that, if they're not pregnant, it's no sin for the dead man if his wives have sex again. 2:234

Men and women are enemies! (Or is it humans and Iblis? Sometimes Allah isn't all that clear about these things.) 7:24

Don't pray if you are drunk, dirty, or have touched a woman lately. 4:43

Menstruation is a filthy disease. All good Muslim men should stay the hell away from menstruating women And for God sakes, don't have sex with them while they're menstruating. It creeps Allah out just to think of it. 2:222a

islam is an insult to humanity . it is a savage and barbaric religion .

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

Did you just damn me to hell? You are absolutely PATHETIC!! I am lying? It's my religion obviously I know more about it then you do! and why the hell would i lie? the fact that you just damned me to hell explains who tolerant you are and how much you respect humanity! And lying can never be justified! All i can say for you is that because of people like you there are so many difference between religions and so much misunderstanding! 

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

misunderstanding ? say that to those who were beheaded, raped,had their hands and feet cut and eyes gauged out according to your sick qesaas ! say that to the homosexuals who were burnt alive and adulterers stoned to death ! say it , tell the world what you do to people who do not accept islam ! tell the world how muslims treated the nations that fought islam ! 

your savage and pervert prophet mohammad belongs to hell not paradise ! according to your own bs of course !

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

you know about this savage religion more just because you are muslim ? what a stupid idea! i have spent years reading this load of crap called islam! 

you are a liar just like the rest of you who support a pervert who raped a 9 year old man just to avoid the embarrassment fabricate stories ! shame on liars and deceivers ! shame on you! i did not curse you, i did curse those who tell lies ! and you are one of them. 

A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (Mohammad) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.Sahih Muslim 8:3310

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

As for Ayesha's age!

I'd like you to keep in mind that many of these scholars contradict themselves in their own records. Thus, the narrative of Ayesha’s age at the time of the marriage is not reliable due to the clear contradictions seen in the works of classical scholars of Islam.Therefore, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the information on Ayesha’s age is accepted as true when there are adequate grounds to reject it as myth. Moreover, like I said before the Quran rejects the marriage of immature girls and boys as well as entrusting them with responsibilities.-According to hadith in Bukhari and Muslim, Aisha is said to have joined Muhammad on the raid that culminated in the Battle of Badr, in 624 CE. However, because no one below the age of fifteen was allowed to accompany raiding parties, Aisha should have been at least fifteen in 624 CE and thus at least thirteen when she was married following the Hijra in 622 CE.-Ibn Hisham’s recension of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rashul Allah, the earliest surviving biography of Muhammad, records Aisha as having converted to Islam before Umar ibn al-Khattab, during the first few years of Islam around 610 CE. In order to accept Islam she must have been walking and talking, hence at least three years of age, which would make her at least fifteen in 622 CE.-Tabari reports that Abu Bakr wished to spare Aisha the discomforts of a journey to Ethiopia soon after 615 CE, and tried to bring forward her marriage to Mut`am’s son. Mut`am refused because Abu Bakr had converted to Islam, but if Aisha was already of marriageable age in 615 CE, she must have been older than nine in 622 CE.-Tabari also reports that Abu Bakr’s four children were all born during the Jahiliyyah, the pre Islamic period, which could be said to have ended in 610 CE, making Aisha at least twelve in 622 CE.-According to Ibn Hajar, Fatima was five years older than Aisha. Fatima is reported to have been born when Muhammad was thirty-five years old, meaning Aisha was born when he was forty years old, and thus twelve when Muhammad married at fifty-two.-Most of these narratives are reported only by Hisham ibn Urwa reporting on the authority of his father. All the narratives of this event have been reported through narrators from Iraq, where Hisham ibn Urwa is reported to have shifted after living in Madinah for seventy-one years. It is reported in one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions ascribed to the Muhammad reports that Yaqub ibn Shaibah said, “narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq”. It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham, which were reported through people of Iraq. Another book on the narrators of the traditions of the Muhammad reports that when he was old, Hisham’s memory suffered quite badly.-According to the generally accepted tradition, Aisha was born about eight years before Hijrah. However, according to another narrative in Bukhari (Kitaab al-Tafseer) Aisha is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur’an , was revealed, “I was a young girl”. The 54th Surah of the Qur’an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Aisha had not only been born before the revelation of the referred Surah, but was actually a young girl, not even only an infant at that time. So if this age is assumed to be 7 to 14 years then her age at the time of marriage would be 14 to 21.-According to almost all the historians, Asma the elder sister of Aisha, was ten years older than Aisha. It is reported in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb as well as Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah that Asma died in the 73rd year after migration of Muhammad when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma was 100 years old in the 73rd year after Migration to Medina, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of migration. If Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Aisha should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Aisha – if she got married in 1 AH (after Migration to Medina) or 2 AH – was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.-According to many Ahadith in Bukhari, it is believed Aisha participated in the battle of Badr and Uhud.Also in Bukhari (Kitabu’l-maghazi) Ibn `Umar states that the Prophet did not permit me to participate in Uhud, as at that time, I was 14 years old. But on the day of Khandaq, when I was 15 years old, the Prophet permitted my participation. So if it was not allowed to participate in Uhud for people younger than 15, then Aisha would be atleast 15 in those battles, making her age atleast 13 to 14 at the time of marriage.-Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, 8:58; Ansab al-Ashraf, 1:410. Opinions are in disagreement concerning her marriage with Muhammad. Their marriage seems to have taken place either two of five years after the Migration (Usd al-ghaba, 5:501).

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

women can have their own minds in islam? 

Men are in charge of women, because Allah made men to be better than women. Women must obey men, and if they refuse they must be punished. Refuse to have sex with them and beat them into submission (Islam). 4:34

shame on you who lie and fabricate rubbish to protect an savage religion !

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

according to your illogical non sense everything that has been said and written about islam can go under question. the existance of islam can be questioned because if the most prominent historians and scholars can be denied ! 

you are digging a bigger hole for yourself and your dear islam everytime you write another piece of non sense !

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

It is surprising that you have studied Islam so deeply and yet you don't know this! Women have the most rights in Islam! and yes they are allowed to marry whoever they want! And of course we are allowed to divorce, it called a khula! Where did you study Islam exactly??? and I did answer but they didn't publish! Someone surely feels threatened! And you can say whatever you want to that does not changes the truth!  All you can do is attack Islam! and Muslims, we are people too so yeah! You do attack people!

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

my intention is clear , to expose this savage and barbaric religion. i shall not stop and expose your sick pervert prophet mohammad and your sicker practices. 

do not stir this s%%t any more because you are just displaying islam´s true values! 

savagery and barbarism !

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

lets see what rights women have in islam:

And call two witness from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not at hand, then a man and two women.--2:282

Menstruation is a filthy disease. All good Muslim men should stay the hell away from menstruating women And for God sakes, don't have sex with them while they're menstruating. It creeps Allah out just to think of it. 2:222a

But if you divorce your wife for the third time, you can't have her again until she marries another guy. Then if the other guy divorces her, it's OK for you to have sex with your four-times divorced wife. What the hell. These are the limits of Allah. 2:230

It's OK to have two, three, or four wives, slave or free. 4:3

Males are to inherit twice that of females. 4:11

Don't pray if you are drunk, dirty, or have touched a woman lately. 4:43

Don't bother trying to treat your wives fairly. It's impossible. 4:129

When it's time to pray and you have just used the toilet or touched a woman, be sure to wash up. If you can't find any water, just rub some dirt on yourself. 5:6

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

your name should read gomrah rather than nimrah ! you are either truly mislead or desperately trying to buy respect for a well known religion that is violent and savage!

you are telling lies , women can marry without their fathers´permission ? you  are telling these lies to protect what? so that you can fix a seat in "jannat" ? you should go to jahannam rather than jannat because of your lies ! oh i guess lying in the name of islam makes it ok !

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

Oh and in case you accuse me again for not answering to your questions i want you to know that i did! each one of them but for some reason i need the approval of the moderator to defend my religion! So i am not hiding! 

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (Mohammad) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.

Sahih Muslim 8:3310

still denying ? what a cheek!

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

no you didn´t! ayesha was raped by your pervert prophet ! 

A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (Mohammad) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.Sahih Muslim 8:3310

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

This coming from a person who only knows how to attack people and religions! Perhaps people feel threatened that everyone will see Islam for what it is and not what you are making in appear to be! 

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

no no no! i never attacked people , i attacked a religion that is savage and barbaric together with those who promote its rules and its prophet who is a sick pervert !

islam is symbol of violence specially women ! 

tell us, what are the rights of women in islam ? can they divorce their husbands ? can they marry without their fathers´ or brothers´ permission ? tell the truth about islam and we´ll see how many will convert to islam. you are being dishonest just like your religious leaders and according to your teachings ! i shall write about the art of lying in islam known as taqieh !