I dislike the expression "poster child", not least because most poster children would be irritating whatever you called them. Malala Yousafzai is the poster child par excellence, and the fact that she is celebrated by the BBC should ring alarm bells. "D" from his excellent blog Defend the Modern World.
On today’s BBC News ‘magazine’ webpage, there’s a lengthy tribute to the heroism of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai. Under the title ‘Malala: The girl who was shot for going to school’, the piece goes on to say things like the following:
“She is the teenager who marked her 16th birthday with a live address from UN headquarters, is known around the world by her first name alone, and has been lauded by a former British prime minister as ‘an icon of courage and hope’…She is an extraordinary young woman, wise beyond her years, sensible, sensitive and focused….The voice of the girl whom the Taliban tried to silence a year ago has been amplified beyond what anyone could have thought possible.”
Great tributes indeed, not wholly unlike those paid to Indian spiritual gurus and Western cult leaders. More generally, the piece (by Mishal Hussein) is watery-eyed drivel, and its subject remains a truly unremarkable, very wealthy sockpuppet.
Malala Yousafzai’s only qualification for the praises demanded from us lies in her being shot by the Taliban. Their reasoning for doing this – I concede – was certainly vile. She was one of numerous young girls in the Swat Valley to defend their right to attend school. To this (naturally), the Taliban are resolutely opposed and – in manner befitting their cowardice – chose to silence Ms Yousafzai by bullet, shooting her on a crowded bus.
The Hussein piece ruminates that the Taliban ‘must regret doing this now’. To be honest, they can’t regret it more than me.
I am frankly sick of seeing her pinched little face grinning inside every newspaper I open. Her vacuous and unhelpful words (her latest suggestion is for us to negotiate with the Taliban) are also something we could do without. And why on earth is she living in Birmingham?
The guru known simply as ‘Malala’ is supposed to be a fearless warrior for Pakistani women’s liberties. I can understand that she left Pakistan initially to receive surgery, but despite many local troubles, the women of the English West Midlands are still allowed to go to school. Is her work really required there.
There are literally millions of brave women across the Islamic world who face down similar odds to Her Excellency, but who do not – like her – end-up in five-star New York hotel rooms. Some of them are even hunted in the West for becoming apostates from Islam. One thinks of the names’ Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Wafa Sultan.
But we won’t have either of these speaking at the UN. There’s a reason for that.
Ms Yousafzai has another value, alongside her chocolate-box ‘heroism’ story, for our political elites. She is the ‘Moderate Muslim’ par excellence. A visionary reformer of a culture unable to be reformed. She will doubtlessly also be held up as a ‘unifying’ figure, around which we can gather to bang tambourines and forget our differences, despite those ‘differences’ being the reason Yousefzai’s family scurried on a plane to Britain in the first place (there are many other hospitals she could have attended).
According to the Guardian, Malala has recently sold the rights to her life story for 2 million pounds. This heart-warming entrepreneurialism must be of great comfort to those women Yousefzai has left behind in the Swat Valley.
Yousafzai is only 16. The BBC piece wonders excitedly where she can go from here. My suggestion and my hope is Heathrow Airport.
To be fair, the girl's age means that she has likely been manipulated by the many seekers of moderate Muslims rather than doing the manipulation herself. But being a victim doesn't make you a hero. Instead of spouting vacuous platitudes about peace, Yousafzai should take advantage of her freedom in the West to do some serious reading. Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Wafa Sultan would be good starting points.
A bit too acrimonious for me. Her appearances on TV and at the UN offer some hope that moderate Islam is possible and that after the jihadi fundamentalists have gone to paradise to sport with all those virgins, there will be other young moderate Muslims who will emulate Malala's desire for education and learning. The alternative to dismissing this young woman is to lock ourselves into a self-fulfilling clash of civilizations. That future looks bleak indeed. The Malalas of the world believe their version of Islam stands for peace just as fervently as the jihadis believe their only purpose in life is to create an infidel-free caliphate. Muslims who emigrated to Canada in the early 20th century became productive, integrated members of society, as did their descendants. I don't know what parts of their holy books they had to abrogate to achieve such integration, or if there were other factors at play. I do know that we can't demonize all Muslims. Certainly no more than we should Christian or Jewish fundamentalists. Many Muslims either don't or can't appreciate the extent of infidel bashing that goes on in their sacred texts. But they believe, as Malala does, that their religion is one of peace. It is their version of Islam and worthy of respect. We have enough on our hands to stem the tides of extremism, predominantly Islamic, without crushing these small voices of reason.
'What a sour article. yes, thre is a lot of sentimentalizing about Malala, but she (and her family) are bone fide refugees. As I understand it, her father is a well-known Marxist activist in the Swat Valley and so the family have been marked by the Taleban for a long time. She is just a girl, and ok, it enables Tories and the BBC to feel sanctimonious by publicisng her case, but she cannot effect a change just by herself. I seem to remember that the socialist movement was quite strong in the Swat Valley at one time, and one can only hope that it will regroup.
because she was anti-Taliban .... embarrassment to Islamists
Ah, yes, the Taliban, which is not the true Islam, and "Islamists" who aren't Muslims at all.
With any luck she will learn that what happened to her was everything to do with Islam, and that an "Islamist" is just a Muslim who takes Islam fully to heart and acts like its "Prophet".
Mean-spirited and slightly uninformed. She wasn't shot randomly as a girl going to school. She had been criticising the Taliban on a blog she started when she was twelve. One Taliban apologia for the attack on her tried to argue that it was nothing to do with education but because she was anti-Taliban. A very recent Taliban statement stated that they would try to kill her again, and that it was because she "made jokes about Islam".
Sure, the Malala show has been a bit of a circus - lots of sentimentality and too much sanctification. But she is a huge embarrassment to Islamists, and it's much better than if the poor girl had just died and been a statistic.
Great article. The case of Malala has become unproductive. Western progressive constantly invoke her because her mere existence provides the comforting, if illusory, possibility that her religion can be reformed.
It,s also interesting how she's done so much heavy lifting while mainstream feminists remain mostly silent on the ideology those who tried to kill her promote, and it's an ideology spreading into the West.