Yesterday, in a slap in the face to common decency, leaders of a large group of Islamic private schools in Pakistan celebrated “I am not Malala” day, because they see Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai as a black mark on their faith:
The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, which claims to represent 150,000 schools across Pakistan, declared that Monday would be “I am not Malala” day and urged the government to ban her memoir, “I Am Malala,” because it offended Islam and the “ideology of Pakistan.”
“We are all for education and women’s empowerment,” said Mirza Kashif Ali, the organization’s president. “But the West has created this persona who is against the Constitution and Islamic ideology of Pakistan.”
How powerful is religion? It got upwards of 20,000,000 students to speak out against one of the most courageous women in the world, someone who is unequivocally and proudly Muslim.
During the news conference on Monday, Mr. Ali accused Ms. Yousafzai of defending the author Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” remains banned in Pakistan, in her book.
In fact, the book notes only that Ms. Yousafzai’s father saw “The Satanic Verses” as “offensive to Islam,” and that he said that Muslims should first read the novel, then respond.
“Is Islam such a weak religion that it cannot tolerate a book written against it? Not my Islam!” the book quotes her father as saying.
What?! Reading a book before overreacting to it?! That’s blasphemy… if you’re an extremist who doesn’t give a damn about the facts.
The New York Times‘ Salman Masood notes that the schools in question are located in poor and middle class regions of Pakistan — in other words, they’re attended by the kind of people who are more likely to be persuaded by religious arguments.
As much as I doubt it happened, I would love to read a story about how some students refused to participate.