Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, June 17, 2018

Today the Weekend Reader brings you I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban by 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai. Malala, a young activist from the Swat district of Pakistan, has become an international inspiration after being targeted by the Taliban for standing up and speaking out for women’s right to an education

Malala has since received numerous awards: She was featured in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013, nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize (making her the youngest person ever to be nominated), awarded the EU’s Sakharov human rights prize in October, and presented with the 2013 Ambassador of Conscience AwardHer story has inspired many, including President Obama, who invited her to the White House in October — where she cautioned against his use of drones in Pakistan

The excerpt below is only a snapshot of her courage under the oppressive Taliban and her dedication to promoting peace. 

You can purchase the book here.

It was school that kept me going in those dark days. When I was in the street it felt as though every man I passed might be a Talib. We hid our school bags and our books in our shawls. My father always said that the most beautiful thing in a village in the morning is the sight of a child in a school uniform, but now we were afraid to wear them.

We had moved up to high school. Madam Maryam said no one wanted to teach our class, as we asked so many questions. We liked to be known as the clever girls. When we decorated our hands with henna for holidays and weddings, we drew calculus and chemical formulae instead of flowers and butterflies. My rivalry with Malka-e-Noor continued, but after the shock of being beaten by her when she first joined our school, I worked hard and had managed to regain my position on the school honors board for first in class. She usually came second and Moniba third. The teachers told us examiners first looked at how much we had written, then presentation. Moniba had the most beautiful writing and presentation of the three of us, but I always told her she did not trust herself enough. She worked hard, as she worried that if she got low marks her male relatives might use it as an excuse to stop her education. I was weakest in math—once I got zero in a test—but I worked hard at it. My chemistry teacher, Sir Obaidullah (we called all our teachers Sir or Miss), said I was a born politician because, at the start of oral exams, I would always say, “Sir, can I just say you are the best teacher and yours is my favorite class.”

Buy From

Some parents complained that I was being favored because my father owned the school, but people were always surprised that despite our rivalry we were all good friends and not jealous of each other. We also competed in what we call board exams. These would select the best students from private schools in the district, and one year Malka-e-Noor and I got exactly the same marks. We did another paper at school to see who would get the prize and again we got equal marks. So people wouldn’t think I was getting special treatment, my father arranged for us to do papers at another school, that of his friend Ahmad Shah. Again we got the same, so we both got the prize.

There was more to school than work. We liked performing plays. I wrote a sketch based on Romeo and Juliet about corruption. I played Romeo as a civil servant interviewing people for a job. The first candidate is a beautiful girl, and he asks her very easy questions such as “How many wheels does a bicycle have?” When she replies, “Two,” he says, “You are so brilliant.” The next candidate is a man, so Romeo asks him impossible things like “Without leaving your chair tell me the make of the fan in the room above us.” “How could I possibly know?” asks the candidate. “You’re telling me you have a PhD and you don’t know!” replies Romeo. He decides to give the job to the girl.

The girl was played by Moniba, of course, and another classmate, Attiya, played the part of my assistant to add some salt, pepper and masala with her witty asides. Everyone laughed a lot. I like to mimic people, and in breaks my friends used to beg me to impersonate our teachers, particularly Sir Obaidullah. With all the bad stuff going on in those days, we needed small, small reasons to laugh.

6 Responses to Weekend Reader:I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban

  1. Nothing worthwhile to say about this brave young woman? Compare her life to that of young Millennials in the U.S. For starters, I recommend an article to which my son referred me just yesterday, Even we are poor as church mice, I am going to buy Malala’s book, because it gives me hope. I love the image of her sitting “quietly listening as they [the village elders] discussed what to do. ‘Malala is not just the daughter of Ziauddin,’ they would say; ‘she is the daughter of all of us.’ ” We should be so lucky.

  2. I can find no words to even adequately describe this extraordinary young woman. I had seen clips of Malala but when she appeared with John Stewart that was the first time I had watched anyone interview her. I came away with the overwhelming belief that I had been (through TV) in the presence of a “timeless soul”. If she can survive the hatred of ignorance and religious extremism she will be one of those rare persons who will actually make a difference in her nation, her region and therefore the greater world itself. Unfortunately the violence she has experienced as a child is not unique and hardly limited. Violence against children flourishes across our planet and manifests in many forms. But when children are the target of political and/or religious movements it is the most egregious form of violence of all! The fact that gender oppression is at the forefront of her experience should only make us more outraged and supportive of her now and in the future. While many people in our own country demand what we may consider to be consider extremist solutions to “their problems”, Malala has experienced what secular/religious extremism brings. Including the typical resolution favored by ignorant extremists since the invention of the gun – a bullet to the brain.

    I was very disappointed when Malala was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She embodies wisdom and courage beyond her years. I am sure we will see more of her as she continues to accomplish great things and make a difference in the world.

    There is one simple thing that we could do to honor Malala here in the US: Stop the violence against our own children!

  3. The Taliban are medieval in social thought. They cling to traditions from hundreds of years ago. Men are supreme and only they are allowed gods blessing. Women are for child bearing and raising them and feeding the men. Europe was like this once where women were routinely burned at the stake, usually declared a witch by a priest. Technology changed that and over time liberated people.
    The Taliban come from remote areas and usually are only taught a harsh form of the Quran in a madrassa. Saudi Arabia pays for this teaching by the Wahhabi sect of Islam. This is were the view of women is cemented into their thinking and where the death to the infidel is taught. Meaning us.
    In a perverse way we are funding both sides of the war on terrorism since it is our oil money that funds this teaching of hatred against us. This truly shows the power of the petro dollar, since none of our presidents have said anything to the Saudi’s about this practice, or even asked them to stop. It also shows that the oil companies are truly trans national . They know that they are helping to create new generations of terrorists, but hey there is just too much money to be made to care about silly things like patriotism. That is just for the people who can’t understand the global marketplace, and anyway it makes them feel good. So good that we may need them to go to war to protect our interests.

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.