Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Am Malala

While I take my freedom for granted, others have to fight for it every day. Malala Yousafzai was a young teenager when she spoke out against the Taliban taking over her community in Pakistan, as they banned education and other freedoms she previously enjoyed. So at the age of 15, she was shot in the head on her way home from school. Somehow she survived, and has written a book about how life changed in her community once the Taliban rolled in.

In many ways, the path to power for the Taliban in Malala's region was paved with the same stuff that has allowed other extremist groups to rise throughout human history. The Taliban were able to take advantage of citizens that were unhappy with current conditions: a weak and corrupt government that could not adequately respond to earthquakes and floods that had traumatized the region. Furthermore, the Taliban used propaganda (through a radio campaign) and charismatic leaders to get people on their side. Once in power, however, the Taliban became brutal. But fear ensured no one would stop them.

Malala and her father are some of the few who spoke out, and were targeted as a result. While the Taliban bombed schools and did everything they could to prevent female pupils from attending, Malala gave interviews to media outlets to raise awareness of what was going on in her community.

Her story is remarkable, resulting in her Nobel Peace Prize nomination for 2013.

In case you're still on the fence over whether the book is worth your time, you may be interested in her recent interview with John Stewart:

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