Malala Yousafzai remains in hospital after being shot in the head by members of a faction of the Taliban in Pakistan. Only 14, Yousafzai received international notoriety soon after her "Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl" was published by the BBC in 2009.
Owais Tohid, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, reported that young Malala was motivated by another women's rights activist with the same namesake:
"The first time I met Malala, a couple of years ago, I asked her what her name signified. She answered: 'Probably, a hero like the Afghan heroine Malalai [of Maiwand] or Malalai Joya. I want to be a social activist and an honest politician like her,' she said, smiling. Ms. Joya, a 30-something activist, politician, and writer who was bitterly critical of both the Taliban and the Karzai regime, was at one point dubbed the bravest woman of Afghanistan."
Malalai Joya, now 34, has survived numerous assassination attempts and in 2007 was suspended from the Afghan Parliament because of her criticisms of warlords, fundamentalists and the NATO occupation of Afghanistan. Joya sent rabble.ca the following statement on the shooting of Yousafzai.
On the attack against 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai
Once again we see a crime against women by dark-minded and brutal fundamentalists. Malala Yousafzai was shot by Pakistani Taliban because she did not remain silent about the ongoing crimes and brutalities against women; because, despite her young age, she had the consciousness to stand for her rights and say 'no' to the terrorism and misogyny of the creatures of the Stone Age.
I strongly condemn this disgraceful act of targeting an innocent 14-year-old girl. This is the real nature of Afghan and Pakistani fundamentalist Taliban. These dirty rascals pose as 'manly' but this heinous crime shows how unmanly and disgusting they are to kill a defenseless young girl.
Malala was targeted because, in her limited capacity, she wanted to inform the world about the brutalities going on against women by extremists. She wanted to wake up the women of the rural areas of Pakistan to stand up and defend their due rights.
This was a warning for those who only understand the language of the gun. This cowardly attack on her proves that these medieval-minded groups are aware of the potential power of awakened women and are afraid that she may become a role model for many more women. So they tried to stop her in the very beginning. But it was a failed attempt because, across Pakistan and around the whole world, people are on Malala’s side and they are condemning her enemies.
The world should know that the West, and in particular the U.S. government, have nurtured, supported and armed these dirty inhuman bands for the past three decades. They should know that still in our unfortunate Afghanistan, the U.S. and NATO rely on brothers-in-creed of the Taliban -- the Northern Alliance warlords such as Qanooni, Fahim, Ismael Khan, Atta Mohammad, Abdullah, Sayyaf, Mohaqiq, Khalili and others -- who have made life a torture for Afghan women. They should know that Karzai's puppet regime is calling the murderer Taliban “brothers” and trying to share power with this anti-humanity band of killers.
I send my salutations to Malala Yousafzai and am sure that her great sacrifice will not be in vain. She marks the shining pages of history while her enemies will soon go into the dustbin of history.
Malalai Joya, now 34, was the youngest woman elected to the Afghan Parliament in 2005. Joya's book, A Woman Among Warlords, was co-written with Vancouver-based activist and rabble.ca editor Derrick O'Keefe.