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What is your opinion on Malala Yousafzai?

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This post of Facebook by Mohammad Ahmed Zeeshan answers the qu well:

"Why is Malala hated in the Muslim world?

What happened with Malala was certainly a tragic event and can’t be justified. However, the hatred she has faced in the Muslim world is not because of her identity as an ‘empowered’ woman or just because of her opinions or her struggle for education. Rather, it is the way she is being represented in the media that many Muslims have hatred for. Her story serves as a screen masking the reframing of an old colonialist trope, that of ‘white civilized men (and women) saving brown women from brown men’.

Such representations of Malala in the mainstream media exceptionalise her courage to stand up against Pakistan’s local “inherently patriarchal and oppressive” culture. This articulation of has Malala gained popularity in West because it justifies the western imperialist ideology that white men (and women) are on a mission to rescue the Muslim women who otherwise are oppressed by their own men and uncivilized culture.

This rhetoric helps cover up western imperialist ideology when western nations invade/bomb Muslim lands like Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. Malala being celebrated as an individual heroine, fighting bravely against a uniformly and always-already patriarchal, oppressive culture coded this way because of its adherence to Islam, exemplifies a (faux) feminism that undergirds and contributes to Islamophobia and the consequent military intervention in the region.

Malala's "girl power", hence, becomes legible in a geopolitical context of Islamophobia, racism, and ongoing colonial relations of power in the region. Moreover, in her diary, we find Malala praising figures like Barack Obama, who was responsible for murdering hundreds of thousands of Muslims. In addition to that, we find her using a mocking tone against the veil (purdah) and other Muslim values. All of this is followed by her representation as the empowered girl who defied the religious and cultural logics operative in Pakistan, and it makes her a symbol of transnational, secular modernity in opposition to Islam.

Instead of being a symbol of the courage of Muslims and Pakistanis to stand up against violence, Malala is shown to be an exception, as a woman who got inspired by western values and modernity. Furthermore, with extensive media coverage and uptake of her image by international organisations, she is individualised in her courage and successful performance of empowerment. For instance, practices such as celebrating "Malala Day," rewarding her with the Nobel Peace Prize, and book deals and even the title of her book, I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (2013), all of these things emphasize her individuality and uniqueness.

This emphasis on representing her as a unique individual inspired by the west has resulted in abstracting her from her local environment and cultures and connected her positive attributes to foreign sources. Her courage and struggle for justice, then, is not celebrated as being grounded in Pashtun cultural practices that valorize social justice. Instead, she emerges as an 'empowered' 'powerful' individual woman standing against local customs and cultural elements with the support of west. This very representation of her is what implies a very negative image about Muslims and Pakistanis society. It portrays all Pakistani, Muslim men as terrorists and all Muslim women as victims or potential victims deprived of any agency.

While Malala is represented as this powerful individual, she is at the same time also represented as a symbol of perennially oppressed Muslim girl, who was later aided by west to emerge as an empowered girl. Such representations of Malala deny other Muslim girls similar forms of empowered subjectivities. More importantly, such a narrative sustains the facade of Islam as an oppressive religion and Pakistan as a backward nation that needs white men to civilize it. Such discourse justifies the Western interventions as necessary or even ethically imperative. This capitalizing on Malala’s tragedy by the western imperialist powers to camouflage their liberal imperialism is what has resulted in the hatred that Malala faces in the Muslim communities.

Such a discourse about Malala helps divert the attention from mass killing of children, women and the elderly in illegal wars and the use of illegal drones across the world or, to be more precise, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, etc. This is seen by many Muslims as a deliberate and calculated strategy on the one hand to dupe the working masses in the Western world and on the other to enhance their neo liberal policies of privatization and promotion of NGO’s and other reformist organizations’ in Pakistan and the developing world to foster a culture of acceptance of capitalism – a system that is devastating society as a whole."

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