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Chapters 11–12 Summary and Analysis

Chapter 11

Malala remembers enjoying school despite Fazlullah's threats. Eventually, the threats of violence became a reality, and Fazlullah's Taliban group began bombing schools. His people were also responsible for killing a local police officer, Javid Iqbal, who died at the hands of a suicide bomber while trying to escape from Taliban hitmen. On February 29, 2008, another suicide bomber killed mourners who attended Javid’s funeral. The elders of the Swat Valley immediately created a crisis assembly called the Qaumi Jirga to challenge Fazlullah's actions. Ziauddin himself gave interviews on local and Western stations to alert the world to the Taliban's atrocities. He asserted that the Taliban enjoyed support from some quarters of the Pakistani army and ISI, an affiliation he considered unconscionable. Buoyed by her father's unequivocal support, Malala also gave interviews. Both appeared on the BBC and Voice of America to warn the world that the Taliban was distorting the Islamic faith through its evil actions. Undeterred, the Taliban bombed the Sangota Convent School for girls and the Excelsior College for boys on October 7, 2008. By the end of 2008, the Taliban had destroyed around 400 schools, and it soon announced that it would close all girls' schools.

Chapter 12

Malala documents how the Taliban left bloodied bodies in the town square to generate fear among the populace. One day, the terror group murdered a popular female dancer named Shabana. Because Shabana was considered a woman of ill repute, many people rationalized the killing as an act of moral cleansing. Each day, the Taliban committed more atrocities in the Swat Valley. The group took great care to target people who had supposedly defied some aspect of Sharia law. Although the Taliban portrayed itself as the savior of Pakistani civilization, it was actually responsible for instituting religious totalitarianism in the Swat Valley. To complicate matters, local leaders like Syed Javid (Swat's deputy commissioner) became active supporters of the Taliban, thus normalizing the terror group in the public eye. Malala relates that her people often felt helpless; the Pakistani army appeared to launch many battle campaigns but never seemed any closer to ridding Pakistan of the Taliban.


In Chapter 11, Malala references Martin Niemoller's poem as Ziauddin's inspiration for speaking out against the Taliban. Niemoller was a German Lutheran pastor who endured years of incarceration in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. His poem warns against the dangers of political and social apathy. Throughout the book, Ziauddin is a fearless advocate for justice and truth; despite threats to his life, he perseveres in speaking out against evil. It is noteworthy that the premise of Niemoller's poem supports the Quranic verse Malala quotes in the same chapter: "The falsehood has to go, and the truth will prevail." This shows that the hunger for truth and justice is universal. This chapter also highlights the stark contrast between the progressive and extremist interpretations of the Quran. For centuries, the Muslim world has relied on mullahs and Islamic scholars to interpret the Arabic Quran for the masses. In Pakistan, the official languages are English and Urdu; national fluency in Arabic varies. As Malala documents, the Taliban has leveraged global discrepancies in Arabic fluency to promote its own brand of Islam. In Pakistan, it has also relied on the ignorance and natural...

(The entire section is 823 words.)