More DW Blogs DW.COM

Women Talk Online

A forum for women to talk to women

Who’s jealous of Malala

While the world is giving Malala Yousafzai outstanding accolades, Pakistan is on the brink of a wild frenzy on coming up with conspiracy theories. There is a limited group of people who hail her as a hero, but most have labelled her a traitor.

Both sides are hilariously trolling each other on the social media. The ones against are posting disgustingly photo-shopped photographs of her as a reincarnation of Satan. The ones in favor are trying to fight back by ridiculing those responsible for such posts. I decided to chip in and present my contribution to the turmoil.

A villain or a heroine?

A poll around the office helped most of my colleagues express with animated body language and in harsh words their opinion of the girl. Some of the kind words from various people against her and my immediate thoughts out loud on them are:

“Malala is the biggest hoax of the 21st century.” (And which is the smallest one?)

“She is propagating that Pakistan treats its women badly.” (And is that not the truth?)

“Malala is a drama.” (This comes from a guy who writes advertising concepts for foreign brands)

“NOOTM-No opinion on the matter.” (I respect you sir.)

Out of the 20 opinions taken, there were a meager few in favor:

“She is not only a victim of the Taliban, but a victim of more than 100 million people who don’t believe in her tragedy.”

“The people criticizing the attention she is getting should really be appreciating it. It has made a role model out of a Pakistani girl in front of the whole world. We should be proud of it.”

Our Gul Makai

I remember when I found out about Malala. It was before she was shot and was writing for BBC Urdu by the pen name Gul Makai. I hailed the young girl’s courage. In a country where women usually accept the fate handed out to them by humans in the name of God, this was a brave 11-year-old, I thought.

When she and her friends were shot in 2012, I witnessed the whole country grieving and praying for her. Schools being named after her and vigils being held for her recovery were the order of the day. But as soon as she recovered and started receiving international acclaim, the love and prayers turned into hatred and anger. What went wrong in the process, I wondered?

It is true that we do not trust the media (local or international) and for good reason. It has been used for propaganda for years. I remember a friend working in the US who left her job in the mainstream media after her conscience started affecting her health. She told me internal stories that I cannot divulge. Even in our local media industry, the big guns have loyalties. So when a young and confident girl from Swat got shot by the Taliban and suddenly started getting too much media attention, people started having doubts.

Even respected people like Noam Chomsky have grand conspiracy theories. I have some of my own,but I do not believe in targeting one person and that too a child, with so much negativity and hatred. At some level, we are all pawns in the hands of the powerful, easily brainwashed by the mob mentality and the media antics. Why don’t we then hate ourselves?

What happened to education?

What all of us are forgetting is that she is a young girl who stood against the terrorists at a time when Swat was occupied by the militants. The barbaric acts of the Taliban in Swat are documented and well known. The “khooni chowk” (Bloody Corner) in Matta still stands with its gory memories of people being butchered and hanged by the militants. There was anarchy until the army took over. Malala grew up in that situation and stood up against the attackers for a cause that was hers. She wanted to go to school and despite the danger, she did.

With the shooting and media’s attention, that cause became much bigger-the right to education for girls. Whatever the malicious intentions are of the media and the international agencies, the cause still remains valid. There are 25 million children in Pakistan still out of school. Can’t we also use Malala to focus on the education situation in Pakistan?

In a research conducted for one of our foreign clients, people were asked to name the major issues facing Pakistan. Unemployment, terrorism, inflation and the energy crisis were all stated as major issues.  Education was not. If we only focus on what Malala stands for and realize our own role in contributing to the cause of education, Pakistan would surely gain from the Malala saga.

Green with jealousy

Our other major criticism about Malala is that she is being used as a puppet to malign Pakistan in the world and is giving power to our enemies. I would say that the bomb blasts that kill minorities every other day are reasons enough to speak badly of our country. Our first and foremost enemy is our own intolerance and ignorance. If we can conquer that first, it will be a triumph worth protecting from the world (aka enemies).

Let’s face it, we are jealous of Malala’s worldly success. If given a chance for asylum and being given millions of dollars (and a book deal) for speaking out against oppression, I would take the offer in a jiffy, and so would anyone living in Pakistan. So let’s be happy for the girl’s success and let’s not shun her for achieving the things most of us can only dream of achieving.

Author: Soofia Says

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


11.10.2013 | 12:37