Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen on October 9 last year, is undoubtedly a global icon for women's education. However, there are some who think that she doesn’t deserve all the praise that she is being given. In fact, these people hate her.
What’s worse is that almost all of these ‘haters’ belong to Pakistan, Malala’s homeland.
The 16-year-old teenager has often been associated with several conspiracy theories. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, is considered to be a CIA agent while others suggest that her family was paid to stage the ‘act’ and were sent to Britain by the U.S.
Some even think that the girl wasn’t shot by terrorists in the first place. According to these people, it was a hoax set up by the U.S. government under the orders of President Barack Obama who happens to be one of Malala’s idols as well.
While the brave teenager was being lauded abroad for her activism and efforts to promote education, this is what some people were saying back at home:
These people (quite thankfully) do not constitute a majority of Pakistanis. However, their voices cannot be ignored. A Time magazine article published in July pointed out that the “advances in technology” have contributed in facilitating such conspiracy theories. “Tales no longer travel slowly by word of mouth,” it cited.
And that’s exactly what has happened in the case of Malala. Hate speech was propagated through various online discussion forums, blogs and social media platform to an extent that it could no longer be disregarded as worthless online blabbering.
What these conspiracy theorists, especially the ones from Pakistan, fail to realize is the fact that by condemning Malala they are condemning someone who brought praise and honor to their country.
How can Pakistanis denounce a figure who can help restore Pakistan’s deteriorating image?
Malala represents the determination of Pakistanis that they do not want to live under the threat of terrorism anymore. It’s through her the entire world, and not just the U.S., knows that the people of Pakistan reject the idea of extremism and not all of them are bearded and/or burqa clad murderers and potential suicide bombers.
It’s because of her that Pakistan is being associated with words like ‘education’ and ‘progress’ instead of ‘Islamism’ and ‘Talibanization.’
The upshot: it’s not just Malala Yousafzai winning the accolades, it’s also Pakistan. Therefore, her representation is essential and very important.