The truth about the Taliban

The truth about the Taliban

October 18th, 2012 in Opinion Times

Remember Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl whose name is rapidly and understandably becoming synonymous with the word courage. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman last week for what a spokesman for the group called an "obscenity." The so-called profanity? Malala wanted an education, encouraged other girls and woman to live fulfilling lives and publicly criticized the behavior of the militant group in the region where she lived.

Now, the young woman is recovering in a London hospital, where she can be treated for her grievous wound without fear from additional attacks from the Taliban, which clearly intends to kill her for violating their extraordinarily narrow-minded and dangerous view of the way women should live.

Malala's courage in spite of the personal danger is undeniable. She has become an inspiration to women around the world and a symbol of hope to the oppressed. Most importantly, her campaign for an education and equality has exposed the terrible brutality of the Taliban for the world to see.

The shooting of Malala and two of her classmates as they returned from school isn't the first time the Taliban has acted so cruelly to repress women. The group has destroyed about 200 schools for girls in Pakistan in recent years. The Taliban routinely threaten and beat girls who go to school, poison wells and use toxins to foul the air at girls schools, and publicly flog and sometimes execute women who violate their so-called codes of proper behavior. Such depraved acts publicly expose the inhumanity of the Taliban.

Malala, among the latest and certainly the most visible victim of such barbarous behavior, is, as of this writing, recovering. Specialists report, though, that it is still too early to determine if she will suffer brain damage or other permanent damage as a result of her wound. Hers is a high price to pay for dreams that should be common and achievable for girls everywhere.

"I have the right of education," she's said. "I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up." That's little enough for girls and women to seek.

The Taliban oppose such goals and employ violence to enforce their beliefs. Such intransigence is a threat to women and to global peace. Nations of the world should unite to eradicate it. It is the right thing to do.