A Hero Has Fallen: 14 Year Old Patriot Shot in the Head by Taliban
Her name is Malala Yousafzai, and she is fighting for her life this morning because she was called out by name and shot in the head by the Taliban, whom she has openly dared to oppose from the front lines, in Pakistan. She never sought fame, nor fortune, nor glory. Her goal was to be a doctor, and she first arrived on the world stage at the tender age of 11, after the Taliban brutally forced it’s way into her life. Weeping before the cameras, she decried the closure of her school as the Taliban gained control and the Pakistani government looked the other way as many were executed, and education for females was outlawed.
By the age of 13, she was blogging for the BBC about the atrocities of life under Taliban rule. This morning, Taliban gunmen launched an assault against her school, and while accounts differ on whether she was shot outside her classroom, or while attempting to leave by bus, all report this was not an accidental shooting. The Taliban called her out by name, and deliberately targeted her.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Taliban gunmen in Pakistan shot and seriously wounded on Tuesday a 14-year-old schoolgirl who rose to fame for speaking out against the militants, authorities said.
Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head and neck when gunmen fired on her school bus in the Swat valley, northwest of the capital, Islamabad. Two other girls were also wounded, police said.
Yousufzai became famous for speaking out against the Pakistani Taliban at a time when even the government seemed to be appeasing the hardline Islamists.
The government agreed to a ceasefire with the Taliban in Swat in early 2009, effectively recognizing insurgent control of the valley whose lakes and mountains had long been a tourist attraction.
The Taliban set up courts, executed residents and closed girls’ schools, including the one that Yousufzai attended. A documentary team filmed her weeping as she explained her ambition to be a doctor.
“My friend came to me and said, ‘for God’s sake, answer me honestly, is our school going to be attacked by the Taliban?’,” Yousufzai, then 11, wrote in a blog published by the BBC.
“During the morning assembly we were told not to wear colorful clothes as the Taliban would object.”
The army launched an offensive and retook control of Swat later that year, and Yousufzai later received the country’s highest civilian award. She was also nominated for international awards for child activists.
Since then, she has received numerous threats. On Tuesday, gunmen arrived at her school and asked for her by name, witnesses told police. Yousufzai was shot when she came out of class and went to a bus.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said his group was behind the shooting.
Here is a brief bio on Malala Yousafzai from Wikepedia:
Malala Yousafzai (Pashto: ملاله یوسفزۍ; born 1998) is an eighth-grade Pashtun student from the town of Mingora in Swat District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and is known for being a children’s rights activist. At 13 years old she gained notability for championing the cause of the people of Swat by blogging for the BBC under a pseudonym about the atrocities of the Tehrik-i-Taliban regime. The international children’s advocacy group KidsRights Foundation included Yousafzai among the nominees for the International Children’s Peace Prize, making her the first Pakistani girl nominated for the award. South African Nobel laureate, Desmund Tutu announced the nominations during a 2011 ceremony in Amsterdam, Holland, but Yousafzai did not win the prize..
Yousafzai lived in Mingora Swat, occupied by the Taliban before the military operation in 2009. During this time, education was banned and many townspeople were executed. Schools were destroyed, and girls’ schools bore the brunt. She wrote a diary for the BBC under the pseudonym of “Gul Makai” where she related the deeds of the Taliban in Swat.
For her courageous and outstanding services for the promotion of peace under extremely hostile conditions, she was awarded the first National Peace Award by the Pakistani government on 19 December 2011. Speaking to the media afterwards, she expressed her intent to form a political party focused on education. Effective immediately, the Govt Girls Secondary School, Mission Road, was renamed as Malala Yousufzai Govt Girls Secondary School in her honor.
She was named after Malalai of Maiwand, a Pashtun poet and warrior woman.
The young girl was apparently prophetically named. Once more, the evil of Jihadist terror rears it’s brutal head. A tyranny so perverse not even children are immune. At the time of this writing Malala Yousafzai, suffering from gunshot wounds to her head and neck, is fighting for her life as doctors in Pakistan attempt to save her. At least two other girls were also wounded in the attack. Malala may live or may die, but there can be no doubt she is a patriot for freedom in her own right. No matter the outcome, the courage of this young woman will always be remembered.
UPDATE: Reports of eye witnesses are now coming in, as is the wonderful news that Malala will recover. The Washington Post has an article that covers what occured in depth: “Taliban Says it shot “infidel” Pakistani teen for advocating girl’s rights”.
Another article from the Post has a video with an interview of Malala and her family before this mornings attack. As I watched this video I was moved by her courage, and struck by this young woman’s intelligence, her longing for her beloved home, school, and books – and her determination to become a champion for her country as a future politician. You can view the short documentary video of Malala here, Interview with 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by Taliban
God be with you Malala, little warrior woman. And may the spirit of liberty continue to inspire you beneath His hand.
“Of all the forms of tyranny over the mind of man, none is more terrible than fear — to be afraid of being one’s self among one’s neighbors.” ~Paul B. Hoffman
UPDATE: Since the time of this writing, a post has been created for continuous updates on Malala’s condition. To read the ongoing updates, click here.