A Young Activist and Her Act of Courage:

Ramneet Kang, Staff Writer

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‘This is an attack to silence courage through a bullet. These    are the forces who want to take us to the dark ages,” stated Kamila Hayat from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The Taliban/Taleban is an Islamic fundamentalist movement powerful enough to seize and rule large parts of Afghanistan. The Taliban and their allies have committed massacres against many Afghan civilians. They have denied UN food supplies to 160,000 starving civilians and adopted a policy of burning vast areas of fertile land, destroying tens of thousands of homes; forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee to the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Iran. According to UN statistics, the group has been responsible for the increasing numbers of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The group has also been condemned internationally for their brutal repression of women. This leads us to the unfortunate event that occurred last year in Pakistan.

On Tuesday, October 9’th of 2012, a young girl was shot and two others were left injured by two masked Taliban gunmen. This unfortunate incident occurred when she was on her way home on a school bus. Who was this young girl and why had she aggravated the Taliban? It was Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old female and education activist in Pakistan. She comes from a region called The Swat Valley where the Taliban had taken over and prohibited girls from attending school. Despite her tender age, she has been featured in countless multimedia interviews, including a blog on the BBC website, which described in detail her life under the Taliban rule. In 2009, she began speaking out about the rights of education for girls. The Taliban blamed Malala Yousafzai for propagating western culture and ideas. It is likely that the Taliban felt threatened that her beliefs were influential and would contradict their own policies. Shortly after the shooting, outrage across the country of people against the violence erupted.

The Swat Valley region in Pakistan that Malala Yousafzai comes from was seized by a subgroup of the Taliban in 2007. Since then, 400 schools have been destroyed. It was here that the Taliban prohibited women’s right to education. She had first hand experience of life under the Taliban rule and this is what caused her to be so passionate about fighting for education and women’s rights through politics. She later went on to become the chairperson of the District Child Assembly Swat. According to fellow students, she was “very bold, and inspired all of us.”

Malala has successfully recovered after being treated at a hospital in Birmingham, England and was discharged in early January of this year. she continues to strive and fight for equality in Pakistan. She has previously been nominated by Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize and was also awarded with Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize by the PM of Pakistan, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. Now one might wonder, is she eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize this year as well? This year’s list consists of 209 individuals and among them is Malala Yousafzai. What an amazing accomplishment that one brave young girl was able to obtain through her own struggle. Clearly her ability to reach out to the hearts of the global community has proved to be very influential. There is no doubt that this 14 year old fighter embodies several causes including women’s rights, education, and the fight against extremism making her a great candidate. We can only imagine what the future holds for this young leader.

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A Young Activist and Her Act of Courage: