Uploaded by TheThinkingAtheist on 19.11.2012

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 was “the 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 girls’ education 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.