Correction:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Malala Yousafzai’s book as “I Am Yousafzai.” This version has been corrected.

Pakistani private schools ban Malala’s book

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Private schools in Pakistan said Sunday that they have banned teenage activist Malala Yousafzai’s book, saying it doesn’t show enough respect for Islam and calling her a tool of the West.

Yousafzai attracted global attention last year when the Taliban shot her in the head in northwest Pakistan for criticizing the group’s interpretation of Islam, which limits girls’ access to education. Her profile has risen steadily since then, and she released a memoir in October, “I Am Malala,” co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb.

Although Yousafzai has become a hero to many across the world for opposing the Taliban and standing up for girls’ education, conspiracy theorists in Pakistan say her shooting was staged to create a champion for the West to embrace.

Adeeb Javedani, president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, said his group has banned Yousafzai’s book from the libraries of its 40,000 affiliated schools and has called on the government to bar it from school curriculums.

“Everything about Yousafzai is now becoming clear,” Javedani said. “To me, she is representing the West, not us.”

Kashif Mirza, chairman of the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, said his group also has banned Yousafzai’s book in its affiliated schools. Yousafzai “was a role model for children, but this book has made her controversial,” Mirza said. “Through this book, she became a tool in the hands of the Western powers.”

He said the book did not show enough respect for Islam because it referred to the prophet Muhammad without using the abbreviation PBUH — “peace be upon him” — as is customary in many parts of the Muslim world. He also said that the book spoke favorably of author Salman Rushdie — who angered many Muslims with his book “The Satanic Verses” — and Ahmadis, members of a minority sect who have been declared non-Muslims under Pakistani law.

In her reference to Rushdie, Yousafzai said in the book that her father viewed “The Satanic Verses” as “offensive to Islam but believes strongly in the freedom of speech.”

“First, let’s read the book and then why not respond with our own book,” the book quoted her father as saying.

Yousafzai mentioned in her book that Pakistan’s population of 180 million includes more than 2 million Ahmadis, “who say they are Muslim though our government says they are not.”

“Sadly those minority communities are often attacked,” the book said, referring also to Pakistan’s 2 million Christians.

The conspiracy theories about Yousafzai reflect the level of influence wielded by right-wing Islamists sympathetic to the Taliban in Pakistan. They also reflect the poor state of education in Pakistan, where fewer than half the country’s children complete a basic, primary education.

Millions of children attend private school because of the poor state of the public education system.

The Taliban blew up scores of schools and discouraged girls from getting an education when they took over the Swat Valley, where Yousafzai lived, several years ago. The army staged a large ground offensive in Swat in 2009 that pushed many militants out of the valley, but periodic attacks continue to occur. The mastermind of the assault on Yousafzai, Mullah Fazlullah, recently was appointed the new head of the Pakistani Taliban after his predecessor was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

— Associated Press

 
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