Malala dedicates this book as follows: “To those children all over the world who have no access to education, to those teachers who bravely continue teaching, and to anyone who has fought for their basic human rights and education.”
I was very fortunate to be the first one to read this powerful story of the youngest girl to win the Nobel Peace Prize. There are two versions of Malala’s autobiography. We own the Young Reader’s Edition.
Until October 2012 Malala and her family lived in the Swat Valley of Pakistan in a city called Mingora. Hers is a close-knit family. Malala is the oldest of three children with two younger brothers, Khushal and Atal. Her father is well respected in the community as he is a teacher and the founder of three schools. Malala’s mother is friendly with all the women in their community. Although she doesn’t read herself, she highly values education. From these strong family ties, Malala has an insatiable desire to learn.
Malala’s father founded a school for girls in Mingora where she attended and excelled to first in her class. Malala describes her life before the Taliban took control of her region as similar to most teens—friends at school, books and movies she adored, fights with her brothers, wanting to sleep in late in the mornings, etc. Tourists would travel to the Swat Valley due to its beauty—tall mountains, lush green hills, and crystal-clear waters. She loved living there and attending school.
All that changed when the earthquake (7.6 on the Richter scale) of 8 October 2005 devastated the mountain villages. The government of Pakistan was slow to arrive to help the victims, but rescue workers from a conservative religious group called Tehrik-e-nifaz-e-Sharia-eMohammadi (TNSM) or the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law lead by Sufi Mohammad and his son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah did. Mullahs from this group preached that the earthquake was a warning from God. If the people of Swat Valley did not change their ways it could happen again.
This is how terrorism arrived in Mingora. The group first endeared themselves to the people and then threatened them with severe punishment if they did not abide by sharia law. Women must never leave their houses unless accompanied by a male relative. All women must be fully covered with a burqa. People must stop listening to music, stop going to movies, stop dancing. “Radio Mullah” would broadcast this type of strict adherence to sharia law daily. Finally, “Radio Mullah” (Maulana Fazlullah) denounced schools for girls. All schools must be closed. This step was just too much for Malala and for her father. She bravely started speaking out.
On October 9, 2012, the Taliban made good on their threat to finally silence Malala. A gunman fired on her as she sat on her school bus (a truck with bench seats in it.
Everyone needs to read this autobiography to understand the courage of Malala’s family and the price they paid. Also, people need to be educated as to how terrorism takes hold in a community.
I highly recommend this book!