When BBC first decided to get some personal experiences of the horror of Swat Valley in the late 2008 little did they know that their small decision would create history in the coming years. A girl shares her personal experiences of the horror and injustice of Taliban for the first time on the BBC blog and how she and her friends couldn’t attend school due to the dictate of Taliban. That was historic. For the social media for the entire community.
What followed was a documentary on her by New York Times, various appearances in TV shows both nationally and internationally, a peace prize by the Pakistan government in 2011 to being shot in head by the Taliban and surviving. The rest is history.
What is astonishing is to note the sheer intensity and zeal of a teenager to ask for her right to be education. To demand for your right to education is one thing but to do so in the midst of a political crisis that too by daring the Taliban is completely a different thing. I remember watching a film called ‘Osama’ on the horror of Taliban on women as a part of my college curriculum and I cannot put forth in words the kind of atrocity that was shown in the film. I was shocked, disgusted and horrified to learn about Taliban and what was going on in the other end of the same earth that I am residing in.
Malala Yousufzai raised her voice against the same Taliban that I was shocked to learn about. Where did she get her strength? Maybe it was her innocence of her age, maybe it was her love for education, maybe it was her upbringing given the fact that her father Ziauddin Yousafzai himself is a education activist but one thing is sure she had conviction about her demand and nothing would deter her in asking for what she believes is her basic right.
“I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorists group. I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child. I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists especially the Taliban.” – that is 16 year old Malala speaking in her UN speech. Those words echo the vision, the hope, the dream and conviction of a teenage girl for a free and a better world where right to education is not just guaranteed by constitution but rather practiced in the society. What is ironical is that both Taliban and Malala come from the same religious background yet where the former uses its religion to spew hatred, divide and to torture the later uses it for equality and to bring light in the world. I no longer believe that Taliban is a product of a particular religion or beliefs. They are terrorist for whom religion is just an excuse to propagate their ultimate selfish motives.
There is more to Malala than her courage. On October 2012 a petition named ‘I am Malala’ was launched by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that demands no children must be left out of school by 2015.
Malala in her short life has done almost everything that teenager of her age can’t even dream of. From being featured in the TIME magazine as ‘the top 100 most influential people’, meeting with Queen Elizabeth , Barrack Obama, addressing in the UN session to being nominated for Nobel Peace prize. With overwhelming support from around the world, wide media coverage, a book ‘I am Malala’ on her experiences now her nomination in peace prize so early in life and one cannot but ask is the media go over the top? Did they make her what she was not meant to be?
But that’s how the media has always functioned – to make a hero out of someone from some incident while ignoring the real issue. Back in India we saw the same thing- making Anna a modern Gandhi of the nation over the ‘anti corruption movement’ or an innocent rape victim being tagged as the ‘brave heart’ of the nation. The issue gets downplayed while the media makes someone a hero out of nowhere.
Malala Yousufzai has done more than she could have. She risked her life to come out and speak against the oppression of the Taliban in her country. It is now upon us, we the people, the government, the media to act on what she stands for ‘the right to education for children ‘across the world irrespective of religion, race or social barriers.