“I am not Malala” day?

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An association of Pakistani schools just held an “I am not Malala” day in order to condemn the Nobel peace laureate for her support for controversial novelist Salman Rushdie. Malala Yousafzai has been campaigning for education in the region since she was shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012. Although the response to the young trail blazer internationally has been one of praise, the reaction in Pakistan has been different. Some see her as a Western agent and others feel like she is shaming her country and culture.

The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation barred its members from buying the young novelist’s memoir because they felt it was anti-Pakistan and anti-Islamic. In fact, they thought it was too sympathetic to British novelist, Salman Rushdie. Rushdie was the subject of an Iranian fatwa in 1989 for his murder because of his book “The Satanic Verses” which allegedly blasphemed Islam and the Prophet.

However, Malala’s book simply describes her life under the brutal Taliban in northwest Pakistan’s Swat valley in the mid-2000’s. The book goes into describing her political ambitions and her father’s engagement with fundamentalism when she was young. The book also describes the public displays of humiliation endured by Pakistanis by the Taliban, the ban on television, dancing and music, and her family’s decision to leave Swat with nearly one million others in 2009.

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