Malala Yousafzai, a name that evokes different emotions – from pride to love to respect to a need to protect her from everything that is vile. Malala is the youngest Nobel laureate and the second Pakistani to win the Nobel after Dr Abdus Salam. Unfortunately, both Pakistani Nobel laureates have been vilified by many in Pakistani society – Dr Salam for being for being an Ahmadi and Malala for just being Malala.
Malala’s recent interview to British Vogue has created quite a controversy yet again. So much so that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has even asked Malala to explain her comments regarding partnership. This despite the fact that Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, explained in a tweet that Malala’s comments were taken out of context by the media and social media and have been spread in a negative way.
The 23-year-old young girl spoke about several issues – from relationships to wearing a dupatta to politics to college life. In her interview, the young Nobel Laureate defended her choice to wear a dupatta (scarf) to cover her head. “And Muslim girls or Pashtun girls or Pakistani girls, when we follow our traditional dress, we’re considered to be oppressed, or voiceless, or living under patriarchy. I want to tell everyone that you can have your own voice within your culture, and you can have equality in your culture.” She also talked about marriage and how she is unsure about getting married. She was quoted as asking why marriage “can’t just be a partnership”. Several people on social media and our very own Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly have taken this as an opposition to the concept of nikkah or marriage. It seems quite obvious that as any other young girl of the same age, Malala is unsure of what being married entails. She is asking why marriage is seen as just a contract or signed papers and not a partnership… a partnership that is more about companionship, similar values, compatibility, etc. She did not say anything about nikkah or a live-in relationship, which is how her words are being misconstrued and misinterpreted. It is quite appalling to see the way Malala is being attacked for an innocent query.
This is of course not the first time that Malala is targeted so viciously on social media. That she barely survived a brutal assassination attempt by the Taliban is questioned by the anti-Malala brigade. They call it a ‘drama’. Well, they should be glad that none of them have had to go through this brutality. When Malala released a statement on Israel and Palestine, she was questioned for why it was not worded more strongly. Of course these Twitter warriors did not know that Malala has done far more for the children of Gaza than any one of them. Back in 2014, she gave $50,000 for the reconstruction of Gaza schools. In May this year, Malala donated $150,000 for children in Gaza. But who can argue with social media warriors and conspiracy theorists with logic?
Let Malala live her life and give her a break. She does not owe anyone an explanation. Long Live, Malala, our pride!