The 12th July 2013 marked ‘Malala Day.’ The day a young Pakistani girl stood in front of the UN national assembly to pledge for the right to an education. Following her attack last October (she was shot in the head by the Taliban), the West have leeched onto her story and followed her every move since the attack till her 16th birthday on the 12th.
I can’t have been the only one who was shocked and confused at the fact that she had been invited to the US to give this talk. I find the irony – and hypocrisy – terribly stark; Malala was being targeting by Obamas drones long before she was targeted by the Taliban.
Malala rightly stated that thousands had been killed by ‘terrorists’ (yes, I’ve put it in inverted commas because it’s now nearly impossible to identify who the actual terrorists are in the Afghanistan/Pakistan area) and millions more had been injured. I can assure you, the death toll of innocent Pakistanis is far higher as a result of drones and imperialism. The Taliban don’t even compare. And what about the other two girls who were also shot? Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz are names I highly doubt you’ve heard of before. So why has Malala been singled out from the masses? Because she’s a well spoken and strong minded girl, who was (quite rightly) intent on speaking out against the Taliban. In other words, she was a perfect tool for the West. Imperialists can now hide the fact that they’re mass murdering an innocent civilian population by very publicly supporting one girls pledge for education.
I’m not saying Malalas campaign is redundant. It most certainly isn’t. As Malala herself pointed out, Islam pioneered both the rights of women and the value of education – and it was made a duty for both men AND women to gain knowledge. Education is a basic human right and one I fully support, especially for women. It empowers and frees us from both imperialism and patriarchy.
My point is, if America and the UK truly want to establish a decent level of education in these countries, they should stop bombing them first. Gordon Brown openly proclaimed support for Malala at the UN, but this is the same Gordon Brown that voted in favour of the Iraq war – which took education and lives. Malala clearly stated ‘The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and Pashtu society for their own personal benefits. Islam is a religion of peace, humanity, and brotherhood.’ Funnily enough, I didn’t actually know she mentioned Islam until I watched the footage for myself; this part of her speech has been conveniently ignored by our politicians. The hypocrisy of ‘saving’ Malala from the treacherous Taliban whilst facilitating drone wars is obscene. Children can’t go to school if they’re dead.
Malala Day also publicises the current narrative of dehumanisation of the non white Muslim man. It’s the age old story of ‘the natives can’t look after themselves, so we need to go and save them’. More specifically, this idea that Muslim women need saving from their own men, is ever increasing. This culture is growing at a frighteningly rapid rate in Britain too – Asian Muslim men in the UK have already been demonised as paedophiles and groomers, even though the majority of sexual crimes are committed by white non Muslim men. This racist and Islamophobic culture is becoming increasingly institutionalised by reactions such as this one. What the Taliban did was atrocious yes, but it doesn’t make the White Imperialist men any better. Obama and Cameron are still warlords, and Malala Day does not justify their actions. This idea that the East needs the moral White man to bring peace to their nations is steeped in racism which I thought we left behind in the 1960s.
The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have. The West has denied more girls an education through drone wars than the Taliban could ever do with bullets. Hijacking Malala’s message shouldn’t ease any politician’s guilt. She said that Friday, ‘They thought the bullet would silence us, but they failed.’ Tragically, the drones have silenced millions.