illustrated portrait of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai

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Ziauddin Yousafzai

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Ziauddin is Malala's father and a fearless defender of the progressive Muslim faith and women's rights. He is compassionate, driven, and courageous. Unusual among Pashtun men, Ziauddin does not consider violence a valid form of domestic discipline. Ziauddin is also a firm believer in educating girls. While the owner of the Khushal School, he instituted a broad-based education for the students who attended classes there. In his position as a community leader, Ziauddin held himself to high moral standards and refused to recognize any social hierarchy that marginalized the downtrodden in his community. He often spoke out fearlessly against government corruption and its neglect of IDPs.

A nonconformist at heart, Ziauddin openly challenged tribal leaders who ignored the Taliban's atrocities, and he also pushed back against ISI officials who targeted innocent civilians. After the incursion of the Taliban into the Swat Valley, Ziauddin gave many interviews questioning the Pakistani army's incompetent and apathetic efforts to destroy the Taliban. He consistently maintained that the Taliban's rigid interpretation of the Quran was a disservice to all adherents of the faith. He also argued that the Pakistani army was doing little to stem the tide of violence against the defenseless.

When the Taliban unleashed its reign of terror on the Swat Valley, he was one of only a handful of men who spoke out against the daily beheadings, public floggings, and brutal torture of defenseless civilians. Throughout every ordeal the family endured, Ziauddin was a steady source of strength and comfort. When Malala was transferred to the United Kingdom, Ziauddin remained behind to ensure that Toor Pekai and his sons were not left unprotected. Ziauddin's open-minded acceptance of Western medicine was a major reason Malala received Western rehabilitative care after her shooting. As a progressive, Ziauddin's embrace of Western medicine and technology was a direct rejection of the Taliban's bigoted stance on both.

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Malala Yousafzai


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