Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Shooting of Malala Yousafzai

It was carried out by the Taliban in Pakistan (or at least they took credit for it).  Malala Yousafzai is fourteen years old and an activist for girls' education.  The Taliban explains:

Public fury seems to have built up as the country's rolling news channels devoted considerable attention to the story and the Taliban announced they would make another attempt on her life if she survived.
Perhaps conscious of what one media pundit described as a "major PR disaster" for the Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) circulated a lengthy statement that tried to justify the assassination with references to Islamic history and the Qur'an.
It said that although the TTP did not believe in attacking women, it was obliged to kill anyone "whosever leads campaign against Islam and sharia" and that her main crime was "because of her pioneer role in preaching secularism and so-called enlightened moderation".
It also said that Yousafzai had been guilty of inviting Muslims to hate the mujahideen, as the insurgents style themselves.
Yousafzai, who won Pakistan's first peace prize for her efforts, did indeed speak out against the Taliban, initially on a blog published under a pseudonym on the BBC Urdu service website. There she chronicled the terror of life in Swat when the area was being fought over by the Taliban and the government. Later she spoke confidently in public against extremism and spoke of her desire to enter national politics.

As a consequence of this shooting, Pakistan has erupted in anger against the Taliban,  the New York Times and other newspapers report.

It's useful to ask what the Taliban's real motives in the shooting were.  The religious explanations it offers  can be debated, even within the circle of Islamic scholars.  But of course they are on some level intricately bound with the need to control women because that control is necessary for the control of the next generation.

Whether the term "misogyny" adequately covers such opinions or whether we need a more specific term I cannot tell.  But I certainly agree that the desire to keep women uneducated has its roots deeply entangled with misogyny.

And no, this particular attack cannot be justified as a response to Western drones killing innocent civilians, horrible as it is.  Malala Yousafzai is not the person who caused that to happen.  Indeed, she is still a child and a Pakistani child at that.

Based on the most recent news I could find, Malala Yousafzai had emergency surgery to remove the bullet and her condition has stabilized.