Published On: Thu, Oct 11th, 2012

Malala Yousafzai, teenage Pakistani protester, gunned down by Taliban

 Malala Yousafzai was only 11 when she spoke out against the Taliban sweeping through her hometown in 2009.

Yousafzai, who wanted to become a physician, became a symbol of defiance against Taliban subjugation, says the NY Times.

Malala Yousafzai

On Tuesday, masked Taliban gunmen attempted to murder the young girl, now 14, shooting her in the head and neck and wounding two other girls. The two have survived, but Yousafzai was in critical condition with a bullet imbedded in her brain.

A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, confirmed by phone that Ms. Yousafzai had been the target, calling her crusade for education rights an “obscenity.”

“She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it,” Mr. Ehsan said, adding that if she survived, the militants would certainly try to kill her again. “Let this be a lesson.”

“She symbolizes the brave girls of Swat,” said Samar Minallah, a documentary filmmaker who has worked among Pashtun women. “She knew her voice was important, so she spoke up for the rights of children. Even adults didn’t have a vision like hers.”

Her father ran one of the last schools to defy Taliban orders to end female education. As an 11-year-old, Malala, who wrote an anonymous blog documenting her experiences for the BBC.

The attack was an embarrassment for the Pakistani Army, which has boasted of pushing the Taliban from Swat. The army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, visited the hospital where Malala was being treated, and, in a rare public statement, he condemned the “twisted ideology” of the “cowards” who had attacked her.

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