News / Asia

Pakistan's Private Schools Ban Malala's Memoir

Malala Yousafzai gives a copy of her book Malala Yousafzai gives a copy of her book "I am Malala", to Britain's Queen Elizabeth during a Reception for youth, education and the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace in London October 18, 2013.
Malala Yousafzai gives a copy of her book
Malala Yousafzai gives a copy of her book "I am Malala", to Britain's Queen Elizabeth during a Reception for youth, education and the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace in London October 18, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Managers of privately run schools in Pakistan have banned Malala Yousafzai’s book from their libraries, alleging that parts of it disrespect Islam and that its teenage Pakistani author has acted as a “propaganda tool of the West” to defame her native country.
Yousafzai’s memoir “I Am Malala” was released in October and is co-written by a British journalist (Christina Lamb).
The book remains among the best sellers internationally, but it has come under fire from right-wing groups in Pakistan, where private schools have decided to disallow it from being read by their students.   
Adeeb Javedani is president of All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, which represents more than 40,000 elite institutions across the country. He defended the decision to ban Malala’s book.  
Javedani insisted it is beyond anyone’s comprehension that a young girl of Malala’s age can write things like Ahmadis are being declared infidels in Pakistan, whereas no such movement is under way. Javedani believes that Malala herself "has not written this book and someone representing Europe (general reference to the West) has done so under Malala’s name."

He says Pakistani education authorities have assured his organization they do not plan to include Malala's memoir in the textbooks being taught at government and private schools.

Under pressure from Islamic parties, the minority Ahmadi community was declared non-Muslims in the early 1970s. Malala in her book has highlighted the fact that Ahmadis say they are Muslims, but the laws of the land do not allow them to say it openly.

Javedani and others point out that Malala has mentioned the Prophet Muhammad’s name without the abbreviation PUH, or “peace be upon him,” which is considered mandatory in Muslim nations.  

But rights activists, like Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy of Islamabad’s prestigious Quaid-e-Azam University, say that pro-Taliban elements within the society are deliberately distorting facts to punish Malala for advocating her right to education.
“She does not in her book say that Ahmadis are Muslims," said Hoodboy. "She simply says that these are people who are being persecuted, and that is a fact of life. Nobody can dispute that Ahmadis today are the most persecuted of minorities, all of which are persecuted in Pakistan today.”
Hoodbhoy also insisted that Malala is being wrongly accused of defending British author Salman Rushdie, who angered many Muslims with his book "The Satanic Verses.”
“The fact that Salman Rushdie has been banned and excoriated in Pakistan is an indication of the kind of extreme intolerance that has come to characterize Pakistani culture," said Hoodboy.
Malala campaigned against Taliban attempts to blow up schools and ban female education in her native Swat district in 2009, until a military offensive flushed the Islamists out of the northwestern region. She attracted international attention late last year when militants tried to assassinate her while she was coming back from school.
Malala was airlifted to Britain with the help of Pakistani authorities for medical treatment and she is now living there with her family.

Professor Hoodboy says the conspiracy theories surrounding Malala’s episode are a worrying indication of the fact that the influence of the Taliban and the people who think like the Taliban has significantly grown in Pakistan.    
“This is a young girl who ought to be a heroine for people across the board in Pakistan, and yet there is only a minority which supports her," said Hoodboy. "On the other hand a mass murderer, a killer of Pakistanis like Hakimullah Mehsud, has been given the degree of being a martyr."  
Mehsud was the chief of the Pakistani Taliban and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistanis. Last week an American drone strike against his hideout in the North Waziristan tribal region killed him. The Taliban has appointed as its new leader Mullah Fazlullah, who masterminded the attack on Malala.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs