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  • Malala Yousafzai is a teenager from the Swat Valley of Pakistan, a region bordering northeast

  • Afghanistan, a place defined by high mountains, green meadows, clear waters and bloody conflict.

  • By the age of 12, Malala was an activist. In 2009, she wrote a diary for the BBC which

  • described the atrocious deeds of the Taliban and advocated equal opportunities and education

  • for women. In 2011, Malala was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Price

  • and, in December of that year, received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize for her efforts.

  • She also received death threats. Malala was repeatedly warned by the Taliban

  • to be silent. To immediately discontinue her public criticisms and to stop speaking out

  • for the rights of an obviously inferior gender. In the eyes of the Taliban, Malala and all

  • women were to submit and accept their place in the order of things.

  • But Malala was not silent. On October 9th, 2012, as Malala Yousafzai

  • and other girl students were riding home from school, armed gunmen halted the vehicle and

  • opened fire. Two other girls were seriously wounded. Malala

  • was shot in the head. At the age of 15, for the terrible crime of insisting that girls

  • had the right to get an education, to better themselves, to break the cultural shackles

  • which imprisoned them, Malala Yousafzai was the enemy. To the Pakistani Taliban, her words

  • were as dangerous as any weapon of warfare, because they challenged the order of things,

  • because they insisted that fanatical men did not deserve to be the masters of her world,

  • because they were spoken by a defiant, free, female voice.

  • For this, the Pakistani Taliban declared war on a little girl because she wasthe symbol

  • of the infidels and obscenity.”   But Malala did not die. She escaped death by inches,

  • and her recovery has inspired millions across the planet. Among the first public photos

  • of Malala’s recovery is this one, the young girl reading a book a symbol of the very education

  • the Taliban wishes to deny. Schools have been renamed for her. Petitions

  • for girlseducation are being circulated in her honor. And for the moment, millions

  • of eyes are opened to the brutal, cowardly, oppressive cultures that seek to keep women’s

  • rights, to keep human rights, under their boot.

  • Malala Yousafzai’s story is a compelling one. Unfortunately, it is not a new story.

  • Every day, atrocities like this are committed around the world. And for thousands of years,

  • tyrants have been terrified that those under their control will rise up and wield the most

  • dangerous weapon of all: an idea. This is a critical moment. This horrific act

  • of violence and oppression charges us to take a long, hard look at things and decide that

  • we cannot, we will not stand quietly as our fellow human beings are tortured and executed

  • for the crime of thinking for themselves. That we refuse to be threatened into submission.

  • And that we will not stop fighting until those oppressed are physically and intellectually

  • free. Thank you, Malala, for showing us how powerful

  • a single voice can be, for providing an example of real courage, and for reminding us that

  • the fight for human rights is not the responsibility of any one person, but is instead the responsibility

  • of us all.

Malala Yousafzai is a teenager from the Swat Valley of Pakistan, a region bordering northeast

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    Halu Hsieh posted on 2013/10/10
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