Pakistani activist honored by students
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 00:10
Muhammad Rehan, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, was inspired last week by a girl’s actions — and the price she is paying to advocate for justice — in his home country of Pakistan, where he lived for 17 years.
Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who gained worldwide recognition for her blog and advocacy for women’s rights to education, was shot in an assassination attempt by the Taliban for what they considered “promoting secularism,” according to BBC News. She was transported to a hospital in England on Monday to finish recovery after a life-saving surgery, in which a bullet was removed from her skull.
“We are from the same country, and though I had a lot of rights, in her part of the country, she didn’t have the same resources to fulfill her dreams like I did,” Rehan said. “I’m hoping to raise awareness so this won’t happen again. If she is able to inspire the government and other people in the country, it will have a bigger impact.”
Inspired by Malala, who is now in stable condition, student leaders of the Pakistani Student Association (PSA), such as Rehan, who is the organization’s webmaster, wore black Wednesday and asked other organizations such as the Muslim Student Association, Sisters United Muslim Association, Project Downtown, and others to do the same to spread awareness of Malala and her message.
“We are raising awareness for women’s rights in education,” Rehan said. “We are focusing on the social injustice women are facing.”
Rehan said incidents like Malala’s go unnoticed every day. People in the area, he said, do not have sufficient access to means of spreading awareness, and the ones who do are too afraid to do anything.
Malala’s work came through her blog after her all-girls school was shut down by the Taliban, and in 2011, the country’s prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, awarded her a national peace award.
Labeena Wajahat, president of PSA and a senior majoring in biology, said PSA is in the process of planning a fundraiser to donate to a charity called “Malala Education Fund.”
“It’s headline news, and we want people to know,” she said. “It’s an important message, and we all learn something from her. Our inspiration was from this little girl standing up. It’s inspirational to see that at that young age, especially in a place where a lot of people weren’t backing her.”
According to the Associated Press, the Taliban have threatened to target Malala again, as she promotes “Western thinking.”
“We can’t close our eyes and pretend this is something we can ignore,” Muhammed Nasim, vice president of PSA and a junior majoring in biology, said.
Malala had defended her messages repeatedly, along with her supporters, by stating that the Quran does not deny women the right to education.
“According to Islam, women should be treated equally and given proper education, just like anyone else,” Rehan said.