It took a long time, but finally Jon Stewart is not reporting the fake news. In a rare moment of genuine humility, the Daily Show host conducted possibly his most compelling interview to date—with a teenager from Swat Valley in Pakistan.
At the ripe old age of 11, Malala Yousafzai launched her blog (under a pseudonym) for BBC, detailing her life under the oppressive rule of the Islamic Taliban. A few years later, a terrorist’s bullet entered her head, seeking to silence her forever, and to silence any other would-be voices of freedom.
By October 9, 1012, now 15-years-old, everyone in her region knew who she was. She was no longer hiding behind a fake name, but openly challenging the terrorists. On that “muggy day last October, a Taliban fighter leapt onto a school bus, shouted, ‘Who is Malala?’ and shot her point-blank in the head for speaking out about her God-given right to attend school.”
Amazingly, she survived and is now shining the light ever brighter on the oppression of Islamic terrorism.
According to Yousafzai, the Taliban terrorists have bombed more than 400 schools in Swat. Innocent victims have been flogged and many murdered systematically. These victims are not from the west. They are not Christians or Jews. They are not Israeli or American. These are Pakistani Muslims, who are simply not Islamic enough for the Taliban.
When young girls were forbidden to study, young Malala said to herself, “Why should I wait for someone else…why don’t I raise my voice? … I need to tell the world what is happening in Swat.”
While the west placates terrorism and does everything it can to pretend that there is a simple answer to Islamic fanaticism, this young girl took the Taliban head on. She went on radio, TV, and did newspaper interviews, calling for girls to be educated.
She shares with Stewart a tale to which Arabs of Gaza can relate. When the Taliban came to her city, they offered them a better life—better services than they were receiving from their own government, such as a speedier justice system. However, once in power, the oppression began and women were stuck in their homes, not allowed to go to the market or to school.
Malala believes the answer to terrorism is not war, but education. While I don’t share the brave teenager’s pacifist views, I do think she has a point. When it comes to the Islamic world, there is a narrative, which spreads like a deadly virus. Young Muslim children learn from the time they are weaned from their mother’s breast, that the west, particularly the United States, wants to destroy Islam. The narrative is drilled into not only radical Muslims, but moderate ones as well.
Just this week a YouTube clip of several Dutch teens from Turkish decent surfaced, where, with deep conviction, they said the most awful things about Jews. Of course, they don’t know any Jews or Israelis. But based on the anti-Semitic narrative they have grown up with, they expressed agreement with Hitler’s final solution.
My friend Umar Mulinde grew up as a Muslim in Uganda. After becoming a believer, he wanted to visit Israel. When he discovered his Israeli cab driver was an Arab he was stunned. When he noticed that most of the workers at his hotel were Arabs, he was flabbergasted. This went against the narrative that had been drilled into him since he was young—that Israel oppresses and kills Arabs, that Arabs have no freedom in Israel. (One of our three Supreme Court justices is Arab!)
I believe that the west needs to focus on education more than on drones and missiles. I didn’t say instead of, but more than. The truth is that force must be used, since a lack of force invites more terror. President Obama’s show of camaraderie in his now infamous Cairo Friendship Speech of 2008 did nothing to stop terror. In fact, terror has increased.
Malala, through education, whether from her parents or by the fact that it was in a British hospital that her life was saved, clearly rejects this narrative that the US is out to destroy Islam or that Jews are evil. Her interview took place in the heart of the America, New York City, and her host, Jon Stewart, is Jewish.
Sadly, most western nations reject using force or education altogether, and pursue the path of placation instead. In the west you can burn a Bible, but God forbid you burn a Koran… Draw a funny picture of Jesus, but don’t you dare draw a cartoon of Mohamed… Make movies and write books that Jesus was gay or had an affair with Mary Magdalene—not a problem; but don’t focus on the perversions of Mohamed, who had sexual relations with his nine-year-old wife!
The most ironic event to take place in light of Malala’s new found fame is that just days ago, she did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. Many expected her to take home the prize, but instead it went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (where were they on August 23rd?) I don’t mock the work of the OPCW; by all accounts they do good work.
However, let’s look at the accomplishments of Malala Yousafzai.
Duesche Welle, the German equivalent of the BBC, wrote in January 2013 that Malala may have become “the most famous teenager in the world.”
United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, launched a UN petition in Yousafzai’s name, using the slogan “I am Malala,” demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015 – a petition which helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill.
In the April 29, 2013 issue of TIME magazine, Yousafzai was featured on the magazine’s front cover.
TIME also named her as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”
She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.