The decision made by the Nobel committee not to honor Malala Yousafzai with the Nobel Peace Prize, this Friday, was met with disappointment from many of her admiring fans. Although Malala was the favorite to win the much lauded prize, it was instead awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who are responsible for the disposal of stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria. However, Malala was gracious in defeat, sending her congratulations to the body for their peacekeeping efforts.
When visiting a group of female students at Islamabad College, ABC News reports on the heartache that many of the attending girls appeared to convey, upon hearing the news that Malala had not received the Nobel Peace Prize. Nonetheless, many of the scholars took the news graciously, with one student expressing her opinion that Malala had already won their hearts.
Malala, meanwhile, has adopted an equally gracious stance. The young girl sent a Twitter message, congratulating the OPCW on their win and thanking the organization for its “wonderful work for humanity.”
Before the verdict was delivered by the committee, Malala was modest about her achievements, indicating that she was still very young. In an interview that is due to be aired by CNN this Sunday, Malala reflected upon her future ambitions:
“I would feel proud, when I would work for education, when I would have done something, when I would be feeling confident to tell people, ‘Yes! I have built that school; I have done that teachers’ training, I have sent that (many) children to school… Then if I get the Nobel Peace Prize, I will be saying, Yeah, I deserve it, somehow.”
A Pakistani politician, Sherry Rehman, took to Twitter to question the decision made by the judging panel:
“Really? This award too is now loaded with political concerns: Nobel Peace Prize goes to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”
On another occasion, during an interview on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, Malala discussed the persecution that the Taliban had subjected women to, the virtues of education and matters of equality. When asked about how she had perceived the Taliban’s threats, she provided an answer that absolutely flawed the show’s host. Watch the following clip at around the four minute mark to listen to her humbling response:
Malala’s Early Work & BBC Blogging
Born 12 July, 1997, Malala was a Pakistani pupil and an education and women’s rights activist, operating in the town of Mingora, located in the Swat District. During early 2009, Malala wrote a blog piece for the BBC, under an assumed name. During this period, the Taliban were deeply entrenched within the Swat Valley. Led by Maulana Fazlullah, the Islamist militant group banned television, music, women’s shopping and female education.
Speaking to the New Yorker, Mirza Waheed, the ex-editor of BBC Urdu talked about their decision to include Malala as a blogger:
“We had been covering the violence and politics in Swat in detail but we didn’t know much about how ordinary people lived under the Taliban.”
As a result, the Pakistani school girl was tasked with writing a series of notes describing the escalating violence within the war-torn region. Her first entry explained her thoughts on the First Battle of Swat, in 2007, where Taliban militants were pitted against the Pakistani Army. By Nov. 2007, the militants had seized control of the region, prompting a retaliatory attack from the Pakistani Army on Nov 15.
Ultimately, hundreds of girls’ schools were demolished by the Taliban, and a region-wide ban on girls education was announced in early 2009.
The Assassination Attempt
Malala was fast gaining a reputation amongst Taliban operatives, conducting a number of interviews, including those with the Toronto Star, Aaj Daily, AVT Khyber and Capital Talk, promoting education for young females. In addition, her true blogging identity was revealed.
Malala was then nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011, by KidsRights Foundation – the first time in history a Pakistani child had been nominated. Her notoriety grew substantially in late 2011, when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani presented Malala with the National Peace Award for Youth.
However, this fame and adulation came with significant risks. The Taliban was already issuing death threats, using local newspapers and uploading threatening rhetoric on social networking sites, such as Facebook. When these acts failed, the Taliban planned her assassination.
On Oct. 9, 2012, a Taliban militant fired a single bullet into Malala’s head. The bullet passed through her head and neck, before coming to rest in her shoulder.
After being stabilized in a military hospital in Peshawar, she was transported to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, United Kingdom, for additional treatment, rehabilitation and surgery.
The assassination attempt received global attention, triggering public condemnation of the shooting and sparking protests across major Pakistani cities. Ultimately, over two million people signed the Right to Education campaign petition, causing the Pakistani government to sanction the country’s Right to Education Bill.
Meanwhile, the Taliban remain “delighted” at the news that Malala did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize. According to the Huffington Post, a spokesman for the group, Shahidullah Shahid, claimed that she had not achieved anything substantial, arguing that real Muslims struggling for Islam should be granted recognition.
Malala’s meteoric rise to fame does not appear to have altered the Taliban’s outlook on the young activist. Shahid had previously told Agence France-Presse that she “… is not a brave girl and has no courage,” before vowing to coordinate additional attacks, given the opportunity.
In addition, it is reported that the Taliban have even threatened to kill merchants that are found to be distributing Malala’s brand new book, entitled I Am Malala.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had previously condemned the decision to bestow Malala with the European Parliament’s Sakharov rights prize, on Thursday, citing similar reasons. They argue that the West was merely honoring Malala’s “… struggle against Islam.”
Malala has plans to continue her activism, promoting female equality and access to education. After gaining global recognition, she had also recently published an autobiography and addressed the United Nations. Malala Yousafzai may have been gracious in defeat, after having failed to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, but many predict the young icon to remain a contender for the future.
By: James Fenner
The Times of India