The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) and the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association (APPSMA) have banned I Am Malala, the memoirs of 16-year old education and anti-terrorism activist Malala Yousufzai, alleging that it is disrespectful of Islam and carries out an alleged Western conspiracy to defame Islam and Pakistan. The book was co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb. The approximately 40,000 schools that are associated with the organizations will not stock the book in their libraries nor allow it to be used in the curriculum and teaching activities. The APPSF has also appealed to the Government of Pakistan to ban the book from the official curriculum for both public and private schools in Pakistan.
Malala Yousufzai was only 15 years old when she was shot in her head in 2012 by Taliban gunmen for writing blogs criticizing severe restrictions imposed upon girls education in Pakistan. After an initial wave of outrage and sympathy, there has been an upsurge in popular resentment that is critical of her activism and reception as a “celebrity” in the West. The APPSF chairman-president Mirza Kashif Ali said “through this book, she [Malala] became a tool in the hands of the Western powers.” The APPSF unanimously voted for the ban, after it "found the contents regarding Holy Prophet highly controversial and written at the behest of Western forces.”
Memoirs Include Sympathy for Religious Minorities & Respect For Salman Rushdie
Mirza claimed that the book was disrespectful of Islamic traditions by mentioning the Prophet Muhammad without the customary abbreviation of “PUH” or “PBUH,” which stands for “peace be upon him.” Amongst the passages considered offensive are those where Malala's father regards the novel The Satanic Verses as “offensive to Islam” but continued to regard the author Salman Rushdie as a man who “believes strongly in the freedom of speech.” In contrast to reaction of violent mobs in Pakistan the burnt Rushdie's works and castigated the author, Malala's father is quoted as saying “First, let's read the book and then why not respond with our own book.”
The APPSMA also denounced the book for expressing sympathy for religious minorities in Pakistan that faced persecution, singling out the reference to the community of more than 2 million Ahmadi Muslims. The book mentions the Ahmadi claim to call themselves Muslim even though the Constitution of Pakistan was expressly declared them as a heretical, non-Muslim sect after a decades-old campaign by Islamist political parties. Routinely subjected to violence and discrimination, Ahmadis seeking a Pakistani passport must sign a document denouncing the founder of their sect, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, as a heretic.
Mirza Kashif Ali said that while the APPSF supports education for Pakistani girls, “that doesn't mean that we will allow our children to toe Malala's line with severe attacks on our basic beliefs.”
The All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association (APPSMA) chief Adeeb Javedani said “Everything about Malala is now becoming clear. To me, she is representing the West, not us."
The Taliban Is Not The Enemy For Most Pakistanis
Popular hostility to Malala Yousufzai has expanded in Pakistan, and conspiracy theories claiming that her shooting was staged to create a “hero” for the West have gained currency. Fahd Hussain, the anchor of a major Pakistani news channel recently said that taking Malala to the United Kingdom for treatment and her being embraced by the people and media in Britain and the United States turned her into “a villain in Pakistan because … people in Pakistan who peddle theories about the West being an enemy said that since Malala also joined them, she could not be a friend anymore.”
Despite the Pakistani Taliban's vicious attacks that have killed thousands of civilians and continue to repress education for girls in many parts of the country, the Pakistani government favors dialogue with the group to negotiate a peace treaty and strongly condemned the recent assassination of the group's chief Hakimullah Mehsud by the U.S. military. The Pakistani Taliban's new chief Maulana Fazlullah is believed to have ordered the attack on Malala Yousufzai.
A secular Pakistani politician, Bushra Gohar says that most Pakistanis don't consider the Taliban as an enemy. Gohar said that the Pakistani military provides tacit support and shelter for the Taliban and as a result, the Pakistani state helps legitimize the message that “the Taliban are friends of the state while Malala, who challenges that narrative, [is] an enemy.”
This kind of paranoid and hysterical reaction in Pakistan is the result of a sense of pure shame that many Pakistanis are feeling for watching a teenage girl nearly get murdered and be unable to do anything. However, in making heroes out of her would-be killers and a demon out of the girl, many Pakistanis demonstrate the same mentality of "Muslims can do no wrong" that made the Jews responsible for 9/11 and refused to believe that Osama Bin Laden was found in Pakistan. Whatever the inner torment in Pakistani souls, the message to the Taliban is clear - kill a girl, and we'll negotiate to give you power. Kill more girls, and we'll perhaps give you the state. And now, Xenophobia has entered the scene. A Pakistani girl can't even seek treatment in the West to save her life without becoming a national enemy.