Malala Yousafzai: Sixteen Year Old Girl, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Taliban Assassination Attempt Survivor
Malala Yousafzai refuses to be silenced. A year after she was shot in the head by the Taliban for petitioning for education rights for young girls around the world the 16 year old Nobel Peace Prize nominee is releasing her first memoir, titled, “I am Malala,” set to be in stores Tuesday.
Malala’s memoir captures her life before and after the fateful events of October 9, 2012, when two men boarded her school bus in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled Swat Valley and asked, “Who is Malala?” before shooting the fifteen year old at point-blank range three times. One of the bullets hit Malala on the left side of her head.
Malala has been long targeted by the Taliban since she started her crusade for education rights when she was just 11 years old. In 2008, the Taliban announced that girls in the Swat Valley would no longer be permitted an education. Those who continued to attend class would be subject to acid attacks and abuse. Some would face death.
A strong believer of the power of education, Malala, at the age of 11, kept an online diary and conducted interviews with regional journalists in an effort to encourage girls to continue to seek an education. After the New York Times created a documentary following the education activist, the radical Taliban felt more threatened and planned for her demise.
Malala often thought about what she would say if confronted by the Taliban.
“It was always my desire before the attack that if a man comes, ‘What would you tell him, Malala?'” she told Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview for ABC earlier this week. “I used to think like that. … I will tell that man that I even want education for your daughter.”
After being shot, Malala was flown to England for extensive surgeries to remove the bullet that entered through her left eye socket and exited out of her shoulder and to repair her skull. Her family now lives in Birmingham, England, where Malala attends Edgbaston High School for Girls and is planning to finish her education.
But Malala remains a threat to the Taliban.
“Malala Yousafzai targeted and criticised Islam,” Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told The Telegraph. “Anyone who campaigns against our religion and criticizes Islam, like she is doing with her secular ideology, is our enemy and so we will target her again, and again. If we get a chance again we will definitely try to kill her, and we will feel proud killing her.”
To the rest of the world, Malala is an inspiration. On July 12, 2013, Malala was invited to address the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York, where she reinforced her mission and her ideology.
“They thought that the bullets would silence us,” she declared. “But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.”
Malala hopes to become a politician once she finishes her studies, and she dreams of a free Pakistan where she can return and see equal education for boys and girls alike. In the meantime, she believes that peace will only be accomplished through discussion.
“The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue,” she said in an interview with BBC. “They must do what they want through dialogue. Killing people, torturing people… it’s totally against Islam. They are misusing the name of Islam.”
For her courage and ambition Malala was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. The honor will be awarded Friday October 11, at 11:00 a.m.
“If I win Nobel Peace Prize, it would be a great opportunity for me,” Malala told Panorama earlier this week. “But if I don’t get it, it’s not important because my goal is not to get Nobel Peace Prize, my goal is to get peace and my goal is to see education of every child.”