A Muslim girl teaches world about fanatics

opinions

October 18, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Malala Yousafzai lies in a London hospital where skilled surgeons who learned about traumatic head wounds from a terrorist action give her a 50-50 chance of recovery. Ms. Yousafzai is the 14-year-old Pakistani who was shot in the head because she fought for educational equality for girls in Pakistan. Her assailants were Talaban fanatics who say they will try again to kill her if she lives.
Malala is slight for her age. But her courage is lion-size. She had been warned to stop her agitation two years ago, but only stepped up her campaign.
A spokesman for the Taliban, a person called Ehsanullah Ehsan, said her crusade for education for girls was  “an obscenity . . . let this be a lesson.”
Indeed, let it be a lesson to the world. She was shot by masked gunmen who boarded her school bus, learned her identity among the children and shot her point blank. It is hard to imagine a more cowardly act. A national newspaper in Pakistan headlined the story, “Hate targets hope.” The Taliban responded by warning other young students that following Malala’s example will lead to a similar fate.

MY SON EMERSON, who edits a newspaper in Vermont and has three daughters, one about Malala’s age, made these comments about the crime:
“ . . . As repugnant as the shooting is, it crystallizes the position that Taliban extremists represent and the threat they pose to basic world order. Shame on us if we ignore it.
“They didn’t shoot an American soldier. They shot one of their own, and a child at that. They hid behind masks. And they shot to kill because of a child’s thirst to learn, to be educated in the ways of the world.
“And they have promised more violence, more subjugation. With the firing of several shots they have declared who they are and who they will remain, as if we’d forgotten.
“Perhaps they didn’t anticipate the immediate and profoundly clear response the attempted slaying has generated. Even the Pakistani leadership — which has sought to forge an uneasy truce with the extremists — understood the shooting was an affront to its ability to govern its people and that its fate as a country would be sealed if half its population were silenced.
“In fact, there is little the Taliban could have done to engender more hostility to its cause than to shoot a tiny, defenseless 14-year-old schoolgirl. Classes around the world are reading today about Ms. Yousafzai’s mission and reflecting on how it is that in the year 2012 we still have people among us who threaten the rights of others in such a brutal fashion.
“ . . . Maybe that’s the lesson that Ms. Yousafzai will teach the vast majority of her Islamic brethren: that Islamic moderates cannot allow the extremists to define them, their religion and their futures.”

— Emerson Lynn, jr.

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