Beltway Confidential

'Bravest girl in the world' Malala Yousafzai defies Taliban, continues speaking for womens' rights in Islam

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Despite taking a bullet to the head and receiving continued threats from the Taliban on her life in the months since, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai is determined to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan to improve access to education.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour Sunday, Yousafzai spoke about her advocacy work and her ambitions.

“I have rights,” Yousafzai said during a taped segment. “I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.”

To do that, Yousafzai told Amanpour that she wants to become prime minister of Pakistan.

“Because through politics I can serve my whole country,” Yousafzai, who originally wanted to be a doctor, said. “I can be the doctor of the whole country. And I can help children to get education, to go to school. I can improve the quality of education and I can spend much of the money from the budget on education.”

Yousafzai spoke of the hardships that women face in Muslim-dominated Pakistan and the few life choices they are able to make.

“[The Taliban] used to flog girls,” Yousafzai said. “They used to flog them. They also slaughtered people in the squares of Mingora. They treated people like animals.”

The Taliban entered Yousafzai’s hometown of Mingora in 2008, and began murdering innocent people as examples. They took over the radio and banned girls from attending school starting in January 2009.

“At that time, I did not want to be silent because I had to live in that situation forever,” Yousafzai said. “And it was a better idea because otherwise they were going to kill us. It was a better idea to speak and then be killed.”

The world first learned of Yousafzai in October 2012, when she was shot by the Taliban simply for being a girl and attending school. But her work advocating education rights in the face of violence is so much bigger than that attempted assassination.

“I would like to tell every girl in the U.K. and America -- in the developed countries where education is available to them: Go to school,” Yousafzai said. “And realize its importance before it is snatched from you as we have been suffering from that situation. Going to school, doing homework on time, being good to teachers and being good to each other -- it's a very important part of life.”

Just last week, the Taliban renewed its threat against Yousafzai, saying that if she “keeps following secular ideology and continues her propaganda against Taliban and Islam, then [Taliban] fighters will wait for a suitable opportunity to target Malala.”

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Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner