November 26, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5540

Controversy Erupts In Pakistan Against Malala Yousafzai's Book, As Islamists Unleash Media Campaign Against The Teenage Icon And Girls' Education Advocate

November 26, 2013
Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 5540

Since the summer of 2013, a number of right-wing Islamist advocates and columnists in Pakistan began a campaign to undermine the mass popularity enjoyed by girls' education advocate Malala Yousafzai among the Pakistani people. Malala rose to international fame after she was injured in an attack by the Taliban for writing an anonymous column in 2009 describing how the Taliban were enforcing Islamic sharia rule and imposing total ban on female education. The Taliban were led by Maulana Fazlullah, the emir of Swat Taliban who has now succeeded Hakimullah Mehsud as the emir of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Malala's popularity and acceptance among Pakistani children grew rapidly, especially this year as expectations soared that she might be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Given her mass popularity, it was difficult task for Islamists and right-wing columnists to publicly criticize her. However, as soon as Malala Yousafzai's book 'I Am Malala' - which is written with assistance by noted British journalist Christina Lamb – was published, some columnists selected passages from her book on issues that could be sensitive in Pakistan's deeply religious society and launched a media campaign to discredit the teenage youth icon among Pakistani children.

Below are excerpts from television debates and articles from three opinion shapers in Pakistan, who are known for their Islamist positions.[1] The three are: Zaid Hamid, a security analyst who is perceived in Pakistan as a demagogue advocating jihad for the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate; Orya Maqbool Jan, an Urdu-language columnist and Islamist writer who has mass following among Pakistani readers and television viewers; and Ansar Abbasi, a senior editor with the influential Roznama Jang media group, whose columns appear in both English and Urdu. All three are often on Pakistani television channels and wield mass influence.

The last two, Orya Maqbool Jan and Ansar Abbasi, also appeared in a debate on Dunya television channel along with internationally renowned liberal academic and nuclear peace activist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, causing a huge controversy in Pakistan. On the program, Abbasi repeatedly called Hoodbhoy "jahil" (a disparaging term literally meaning "illiterate") and asked him to clarify his stand on religiously sensitive issues such as those involving Salman Rushdie and Prophet Muhammad, as TV host Kamran Shahid handed over control to Abbasi and inserted himself in the debate by noting that at a university of London, he wrote "peace be upon him" with Prophet Muhammad's name in his thesis as a matter of religious conviction, despite his thesis supervisor reminding him that this lacked objectivity.[2]

Analyst Zaid Hamid: "[Malala Yousafzai] Is Just A 14-Year-Old Girl And She Is Not A Thinker, A Philosopher, Or An Ideologue, But Now… A Small Innocent Girl Is Being Used And Abused [By The West] Against The State Of Pakistan, Against Muslims"

In July 2013, Zaid Hamid was interviewed on a talk show hosted by Kamran Shahid on Dunya television channel. The following are excerpts from the interview, which was conducted in Urdu:[3]

Zaid Hamid: "The majority of the people in Pakistan has now begun to understand that more than 100,000 Muslims have been killed at the hands of the TTP. And picking up an injured 14-year-old girl [Malala Yousafzai] from among those over 100,000 dead and attempting through her to give this impression that Pakistan is against girls' education, the religion of Islam is against girls education; to me, it is the similar kind of disinformation and propaganda which was carried out against the Taliban in Afghanistan that they are against the education of Afghan girls. However, the reality is that they were opposed to co-education [system]. We don't justify, in any case, what has happened to Malala. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was not our creation. It is now a known fact that they are the CIA and [India's] RAW-backed militants who, while sitting in Afghanistan, are waging a war against the state of Pakistan. They are not fighting against women's education only. If Pakistan Army is fighting them, if they carry out bomb attacks in Meena Bazaar [of Peshawar] and martyr 300-odd Peshawaris in Peshawar, if they attack mosques and Imambargahs [Shi'ite mosques] [TV host interjects here]…."

Anchor Kamran Shahid: "Zaid Sahib, you are saying that the West is not raising the issue of the killings of 100,000 people but it is picking up the case of a girl, Malala Yousafzai. What are you saying, is there also a conspiracy on the issue of Malala in your view?"

Zaid Hamid: "There was a film Saving Face [an Oscar winning documentary by Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy] in which acid is thrown on the face of a woman, and that film was awarded to give the impression that all the Pakistani men keep throwing acid on every woman's face in Pakistan. And you never see our positive things being projected in the world. All our sympathies are with Malala. We don't believe the propaganda, whether she got the bullet or not [fired by the Taliban militants]. In short, she was shot at and got injured and suffered atrocities and brutalities. She is just a 14-year-old girl and she is not a thinker, a philosopher, or an ideologue, but now that a small innocent girl is being used and abused against the state of Pakistan, against Muslims, to give this impression that the whole fight of the TTP in Pakistan is perhaps a war against women education…."

Columnist Orya Maqbool Jan: "[In Malala's Book] The First Person Who Is Discussed Is Salman Rushdie, A Darling Of The West, Who Had Used Blasphemous Words Against Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)…"

Following are excerpts from Orya Maqbool Jan's Urdu-language column, titled "Malala And Her Promoters":[4]

"You may not need to read Malala's story, which is 276 pages, if you are aware of what has been said against Islam and Muslims in the past 20 years, and particularly the allegations that are being levelled against Pakistan, and the way Islam, Muslims, and Pakistan are being defamed. If you put these allegations and compare them with excerpts from the story of 16-year-old Malala then the question will come to your mind as to who has put these disgraceful words for my religion, Muslims, and Pakistani people in the mouth of that young girl, and for what purpose.

"[In the book] the first person who is discussed is Salman Rushdie, a darling of the West, who had used blasphemous words against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the mothers of Muslims [i.e. the prophet's wives], and the members of the prophet's household. About him [Rushdie], she writes: 'In Pakistan, the one who started writing about the book was a cleric who was very close to agencies' (page 30) [note: it means Pakistan's intelligence agencies prompted a cleric to write and foment a campaign against Rushdie].Who put this worst lie of history in her mouth? Who forces her to write that Salman Rushdie had every right to [write this] under the 'freedom of expression'? Are these blind men of history so ignorant that they even don't know that the protest against Salman Rushdie's book ['The Satanic Verses'] was done at first in London and European cities, and Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa to kill him? But the courage to link the love of [Muhammad, i.e.] the head of the prophets (pbuh) with the agencies could be shown only with ‘a 16-year-old innocent girl' like Malala.

"After that [in the book], a very mocking caricature of [the former Pakistani President General] Ziaul Haq was presented, and with that there is the same rhetoric which is raised in this country that 'women's life was very restricted during the time of Ziaul Haq' (p.24). If a person picks up the list of television plays shown over television during 1977-89 [the period of military rule of Ziaul Haq], one would know that it was the golden period of TV play on PTV [state-run Pakistan Television]. Hussaina Moin, Fatima Surraiya Bajia, and Noorul Hoda Shah are the symbols of that period.

"It seems as if an attempt has been made to prove through these sentences that all schools, universities, and colleges were closed down and women were put behind the walls [of their homes in Pakistan during the Ziaul Haq era]. But the reality is that [modernist networks of schools] Beckon House, the City School, the American School, the Grammar School all were established during the time of Ziaul Haq, and their branches were opened in the length and breadth of the country."

"[Former] U.S. President George Bush's Tongue Has Been Put Into This Girl's Mouth And She Writes On Page 71, 'Everyone Knows That [Military Ruler General] Musharraf Was Double Crossing, Used To Take Money From The U.S. And Used To Aid The Jihadis Also'"

"However, to hurl abuses the West needs a person who offers prayer or takes the name of Allah. All Mughals were tyrants but only [the religious one among them] Aurangzeb is cursed. This impression comes up from every page of the entire book and this image is the outcome of the 'great' mind of that 16-year-old Malala. Her love for Pakistan is such that she narrates with pride how her father rejected the celebration of Pakistan's 50th Independence Day on August 14th; her father and his friends tied black bands on their arms (p.45). Veiling and burka are normal things, but making a mockery of it Malala says that 'Burka is like a [boiling] kettle in summers' (p. 51). With extreme sarcasm, she mentions [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar as the 'one-eyed Mullah.' I don't want to give interpretation here, as my forefathers, my religion, and my morality have not taught me to mock in this way.

"After that, [former] U.S. President George Bush's tongue has been put into this girl's mouth and she writes on page 71, 'everyone knows that [Pakistani military ruler General Pervez] Musharraf was double crossing, used to take money from the U.S. and used to aid the jihadis also. The ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence of the Pakistani military] used to consider them a strategic asset.' Speaking the language of the United States, Malala did not feel even a little bit ashamed that this is the same army that got her Swat freed from what she called the 'tyrannical clamps' of the Taliban. What the U.S. and its allies wanted to say, they got uttered through the '16-year-old innocent' Malala. This is the familiar style of making a mockery of Pakistan and Islam, which the whole Western world and its secular allies use in their talks.

"Malala termed all the Islamic education that is taught in our syllabus as the creation of Ziaul Haq. On page 24, she has written that the whole syllabus was prepared in the time of Ziaul Haq to teach us that Pakistan is a fortress of Islam. Malala is also sad about Qadianis [Ahmadi Muslims] being declared a minority [i.e. non-Muslim] because according to her it was not for the parliament [to do so]. According to her, it is also wrong to teach children that ours is a strong nation and we have the capability to win war against India. According to her, they should be told the truth - that we have also lost in wars [against India], and it would be historically correct.

"But are children taught like that in any country? Do the American children get to read that their forefathers had killed the red Indians and had made and broken pacts 50,000 times with them? Malala called Alexander her childhood hero (p.20) because the picture of Alexander was such in her English book that children get impressed, according to that 'innocent.' No one teaches children in the West that Alexander was that kind of a tyrant who got all the residents of Thebes killed, even the children, only because they had written slogan on the walls against him. He began the practice of killing diplomats/messengers for the first time in the world. He had demolished the famous Parsi prayer house Persepolis, only to loot the treasure there. But Alexander is a hero according to what she had read in her childhood in the syllabus of the school that was established by her father.

"Lessons to mock our forefathers are given only to the Muslims, and they are told to teach their children the facts, but none implements this ideal in one's own country. This book is now available on every bookshelf in Europe and it is within the reach of every individual in the U.S. and Pakistan who can read English. And people have this belief of what an international thinking an 'innocent girl' has! She only says what the West says. She also finds the same ills in Pakistan, Islam, and Muslims that the whole of Europe finds. What an understanding the 'innocent girl' has! Such a girl should be the apple of everyone's eyes. The girl that blackens the face of family is honorable and the one who hides the ills of the house is old-fashioned, orthodox, and illiterate. This is the standard of those who shout in the media every day and disgrace the country…."

Journalist Ansar Abbasi: "Malala Yousafzai's Recently Launched Book… Has A Lot To Make This Teenager Extremely Controversial, Besides Providing Her Critics Something 'Concrete' To Prove Her As An 'Agent' Of The West Against Islam And Pakistan"

Leading columnist and journalist Ansar Abbasi

Journalist Ansar Abbasi is at the forefront of the campaign against Malala Yousafzai. Following are excerpts from Abbasi's English-language article "Malala Exposes Herself To Criticism":[5]

"Malala Yousafzai's recently launched book, I Am Malala, has a lot to make this teenager extremely controversial besides providing her critics something 'concrete' to prove her as an 'agent' of the West against Islam and Pakistan. The book, which is more reflective of Malala's father's experiences and thoughts than her own, softly talks of the most hated blasphemer Salman Rushdie and his sacrilegious book The Satanic Verses. As has been the view of the West in general, she writes: 'My father also saw the book as offensive to Islam but believes strongly in freedom of speech… Is Islam such a weak religion that it cannot tolerate a book written against it? Not my Islam,' she quoted her father as saying, and shifted all the blame on what she called a 'mullah close to our intelligence services' to have ignited the feeling of the people of Pakistan to protest.

"Like any Western authors, Malala in her book refers to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) on many occasions but does not use what is considered mandatory for every Muslim to say/write - either Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH) or Sallallu Alaihi Wasallam (SAW). She even reflected negatively on Islamic laws. She writes: 'But General Zia brought in Islamic laws which reduced woman's evidence in court to count for only half that of a man's.'

"She also found the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan as 'stricter.' 'In Pakistan we have something called the Blasphemy Law, which protects the Holy Quran from desecration. Under General Zia's Islamization campaign, the law was made much stricter so that anyone who 'defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet' can be punished by death or life imprisonment,' her book reads.

"As much as her abhorrence for General Ziaul Haq and his Islamization, she was positive in regard to General Musharraf and his policy of enlightened moderation. On page 78-79 of her book, she says: 'In some ways Musharraf was very different from General Zia. Though he usually dressed in uniform, he occasionally wore Western suits and he called himself chief executive instead of chief martial law administrator. He also kept dogs, which we Muslims regard as unclean. Instead of Zia's Islamization he began what he called 'enlightened moderation.' He opened up our media, allowed new private channels and female newscasters, as well as showing dancing on television. The celebration of Western holidays such as Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve was allowed. He even sanctioned an annual pop concert on the eve of Independence Day…"

"[In The Book, Malala Talked] About Pakistan's History And Wrote (Page 24), 'Our Textbooks Were Rewritten To Describe Pakistan As A Fortress Of Islam, Which Made It Seem As If We Had Existed Far Longer Than Since 1947, And Denounced Hindus and Jews'"

"While referring to Ziaul Haq and the Islamic laws, she wrote on page 24, 'But General Zia brought in Islamic Laws which reduced a woman's evidence in court to count for only half that of a man's. Soon our prisons were full of cases like that of a thirteen-year-old-girl who was raped and became pregnant and was then sent to prison for adultery because she couldn't produce four male witnesses to prove it was a crime. A woman couldn't even open a bank account without a man's permission.' Registering her subtle protest to Zia's policy of preventing sportswomen from wearing shorts, she said, 'As a nation we have always been good at hockey, but Zia made female hockey players wear baggy trousers instead of shorts, and stopped women playing some sports altogether.' She also said during Zia's regime many madrassas were opened. She added, 'In all schools, religious studies, which we call deeniyat, was replaced by Islamiyat, or Islamic studies, which children in Pakistan still have to do today.'

"Then she talked about Pakistan's history and wrote (page 24), 'Our textbooks were rewritten to describe Pakistan as a fortress of Islam, which made it seem as if we had existed far longer than since 1947, and denounced Hindus and Jews.' Then she continued on page 25 to adjudge, 'Anyone reading them (the rewritten textbooks of Zia's era) might think we won the three wars we have fought and lost against our great enemy India.'

"About Salman Rushdie and his highly blasphemous book, she wrote (page 36-37), 'It (The Satanic Verses) was a parody of the Prophet's life set in Bombay. Muslims widely considered it blasphemous and it provoked so much outrage that it seemed people were talking of little else. The odd thing was no one had even noticed the publication of the book to start with – it wasn't actually on sale in Pakistan – but then a series of articles appeared in Urdu newspapers by a mullah close to our intelligence service, berating the book as offensive to the prophet and saying it was the duty of good Muslims to protest. Soon mullahs all over Pakistan were denouncing the book, calling for it to be banned, and angry demonstrations were held. The most violence took place in Islamabad on February 12, 1989, when American flags were set alight in front of the American Centre – even though Rushdie and his publishers were British….

"She added, 'My father's college held a heated debate in a packed room. Many students argued that the book should be banned and burnt and the fatwa be upheld. My father also saw the book as offensive to Islam but believes strongly in freedom of speech. 'First, let's read the book and then why not respond with our own book,' he suggested. He ended by asking in a thundering voice my grandfather would have been proud of: Is Islam such a weak religion that it cannot tolerate a book written against it? Not my Islam!' About Zia's policy of supporting Afghan Jihad [of the 1980s], she wrote, 'It was as if under Zia jihad had become the sixth pillar of our religion, on top of the five we grow up to learn…. My father says that in our part of the world this idea of jihad was very much encouraged by the CIA.' On page 45 of her book, she wrote, 'On Pakistan's fiftieth anniversary on August 14, 1997, there were parades and commemorations throughout the country. However, my father and his friends said there was nothing to celebrate as Swat had only suffered since it had merged with Pakistan. They wore black armbands to protest, saying the celebrations were for nothing, and were arrested.'"

"In Her Book She Generally Used The Term Mullah [In A Denigrating Manner] For Religious Scholars And Religious Leaders; On Page 55 She Referred To [Taliban Leader] Mullah Omar As 'A One-Eyed Mullah'"

"In her book she generally used the term 'mullah' [in a denigrating manner] for religious scholars and religious leaders. On page 55 she referred to [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar as 'a one-eyed mullah' whom she cited in her book for 'burning girls' schools.' She added that the one-eyed mullah forced men to grow beards and coerced women to wear the burqa, about which Malala wrote, 'Wearing a burqa is like walking inside a beige fabric shuttlecock with only a grille to see through, and on hot days it's like an oven. At least I didn't have to wear one.'

"She said that Quaid-i-Azam [Great Leader, the founder of Pakistan] Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a Shia and remembered Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal [MMA – a religious parties' coalition that ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province during General Musharraf's time], the past alliance of religious political parties, negatively. Referring to the 2002 elections, she said, 'In our province these elections brought what we called a 'mullah government' to power.' She also talked of people jokingly referred to the MMA as the Mullah Military Alliance. Talking about the creation of a number of madrassas during the Afghan jihad in Pakistan, she said that most of them were Saudi-funded, and as per her father that was the start of the 'Arabization' of Pakistan.

"On the Lal Masjid issue [the 2007 military operation against armed students of Islamabad's Red Mosque and madrassa], she wrote on page 105, 'Around the same time as our Taliban were emerging in Swat, the girls of the Red Mosque madrassa began terrorizing the streets of Islamabad. They raided houses they claimed were being used as massage centers, they kidnapped women they said were prostitutes, and closed down DVD shops, making bonfires of CDs and DVDs. When it suits the Taliban, women can be vocal and visible…'

"About the May 2 incident [the U.S. operation in Abbottabad to kill the Al-Qaeda leader] and Osama bin Laden, she at one point on page 176 said, 'We couldn't believe the army had been oblivious to bin Laden's whereabouts.' She added on page 177, 'My father said it was a shameful day. How could a notorious terrorist be hiding in Pakistan and remain undetected for so many years?, he asked. Others were asking the same thing.' She further explained, 'You could see why anyone would think our intelligence service must have known bin Laden's location. ISI is a huge organization with agents everywhere. How could he have lived so close to the capital [Islamabad] – just sixty miles away? And for so long! Maybe the best place to hide is in plain sight, but he had been living in that house since the 2005 earthquake. Two of his children were even born in the Abbottabad hospital. And he'd been in Pakistan for more than nine years….'"

"When Malala Was Sent… [For Medical Treatment In England] The Government Informed The Media That Her Father Ziauddin Has Threatened That If He Was Not Appointed At The Pakistani High Commission In London He Would Take Political Asylum In Britain"

Following are excerpts from another column by Ansar Abbasi, this one is Urdu language, titled "Why Is The Media Silent?":[6]

"As the controversial part of Malala's book came to the fore it seemed as if a snake has bitten the media. Silence prevails all over. Television channels have imposed a kind of self-censorship; it neither informed people about the controversial excerpts of the book nor organized any talk show on it. Whatever is written in Malala's book, I Am Malala, if anybody else had written those things then there would have come up many breaking news, talk shows after talks shows, and many fatwas [Islamic decrees] would have been issued. But, according to my information, only one talk show could take place in which I too had a chance to participate.

"It was the responsibility of the media to bring forth facts before public. Media introduced Malala to the world and created millions of her fans around the world; it was through media that her struggle for education came to the fore and she got huge appreciation in Pakistan. When Malala was attacked reports were carried night and day about that. Messages of prayer and goodwill started pouring in from around the world. Malala became an icon for children.

"Media presented the vows of every Pakistani child to support Malala. Some people who talked negatively about Malala were rejected. Some people went on to the extent of alleging that Malala has been created as a tool by the anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan forces, and that her father is playing an important role in it. Very few people believed such things. Sympathy with Malala was such that some controversial issues against her father were ignored even in the media.

"When Malala was sent out of the country after the attack [for medical treatment in England], the government informed the media that her father Ziauddin has threatened that if he was not appointed at the Pakistani High Commission in London he would take political asylum in Britain along with his family. Although this point has been repudiated in Malala's book, it was known to some other people, including then-President Asif Ali Zardari and Home Minister Abdur Rahman Malik; in fact, Mr. Malik had told some people about this himself, but media did not give any importance to this news because it was a matter of honor of a victim daughter."

"Media Should Discuss All These Issues After These Fresh Controversies, And It Should Be Decided If Malala Is Still To Be Called The 'Daughter Of The Nation'"; "I Would Not Like My Children To Follow Malala In Any Way And Look At Her As A Hero"

"After recuperation Malala received many awards from Britain, Europe, and the U.S., so much so that she was nominated for the Nobel Prize too. The world was awaiting her receiving the award, but this could not happen and a large number of people were sad about this in Pakistan. During this period, Malala was considered as a source to earn good name [popularity] for Pakistan. Malala was given the title of 'daughter of the nation.' She wants to become the prime minister of Pakistan in the future; that is why prayers were offered for her. The situation came to the extent that even former President Zardari and Benazir Bhutto's eldest daughter Bakhtawar also supported her wish to become the prime minister. Meanwhile, prominent world personalities seemed passionate to meet Malala. Among others, U.S. President Barack Obama and even Britain's Queen [Elizabeth II] invited Malala to meet her. All these were like a dream for Pakistanis, but when Malala's book came out then everything became suspicious.

"Now it is the responsibility of media to tell people what has been written in that book. I gave information about the controversial excerpt from the book and then I wrote a column entitled 'Is That The Same Malala?'… Another columnist raised this issue a few days before my column. I was hoping that Malala's book would become an important topic of discussion for TV channels and talk shows due to its grave controversy, but nothing happened like that… It is important to tell the children who want to become Malala as to what Malala has written in her book. It should be discussed as to why she wrote about the book of condemned Salman Rushdie to be a matter of freedom of expression with reference to her father, because it was extremely wrong to do so. Similarly, there are other matters which are related to our religion and faith, and why did Malala need to write regarding that? And why did Malala refrain from writing Sallallahu Alaih-e-Wasallam [peace be upon him – pbuh] when mentioning the name of Muhammad (pbuh)?

"Media should discuss all these issues after these fresh controversies, and it should be decided if Malala is still to be called the 'daughter of the nation.' No matter whether she gets all kinds of awards or the doors of the White House and Buckingham Palace remain open 24 hours for her, but personally I would not like my children to follow Malala in any way and look at her as a hero. But at the same time I don't want to abuse her. Besides praying to Allah, we should try to save Malala from such people who are using her for their interest. But when media would be partial then how will our people, our children, and our elders know about what sort of people has Malala has been trapped among? Many of the readers of my previous column wrote that it was media which made Malala a hero; that is why now it is reluctant to tell the truth of her book. I think that many people wrote and spoke with a clear heart about Malala [in the past]. Now Malala's book has given many of them a great shock, and there are many who have no objection to this book. Therefore, there should not be any remorse. Media should learn a lesson from this incident of Malala and inform people about the fact. If we did not do so then it would be cheating our children and people, and it would also help those who are using Malala. Here I would like to ask the people cursing Malala to follow the path of our beloved prophet (pbuh) and pray for all of us, including Malala, to guide us on the right path which could become the source of our success in the hereafter. Amen."

Blogger: "What Was … Unsettling Was The Way The [TV] Host, Kamran Shahid, Seems To Have Taken A Backseat … When The Guest Speakers [Ansar Abbasi And Maqbool Orya Jan] Started Exchanging Insults [Against Liberal Academic Pervez Hoodbhoy]"

TV Host Kamran Shahid (left)

The following are excerpts from a blog by a Pakistani student Nayyar Afaq, about how television host Kamran Shahid allowed insults to be hurled on Pakistan's national channel by Ansar Abbasi and Orya Maqbool Jan against liberal academic Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy:[7]

"[On Kamran Shahid's program] the conversation began with Orya Maqbool and Ansar Abbasi giving their view on the book [by Malala Yousafzai]. Highly sensationalized words were used by the two, and common ground was reached with Malala being framed as offensive towards Islam. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy interjected, stating that he had also read the book but did not find anything against Islam in her book as claimed by the other guests. He suspected either they had not read the book attentively or were deliberately trying to malign her.

"The past animosity between Dr. Hoodbhoy and Ansar Abbasi fueled a debate that turned into an ugly verbal brawl on national television, with insensitive comments being exchanged by both parties. Meanwhile, Orya Maqbool Jan yelled out, rather loudly… appealing to the audience to open the book in question and confirm on page 30 that Malala had written these words: 'He (Salman Rushdie) has [sic] all the right under freedom of expression, but my father said that we should write a book against him.'

"Visibly astonished, Dr. Hoodbhoy asked, in a calm tone, if Orya Maqbool Jan had the book in front of him, from which he had read that particular excerpt. He further asserted that there was no statement from her that was in support of Rushdie. At that, Orya insisted that these were, in fact, the exact words taken from her book and continued to incite religious sentiments through his sermon against Malala. During the program, Malala was also accused of favoring Ahmadis in her book. Dr. Hoodbhoy, once again, denied the allegation leveled against Malala, stating that this was a lie and not written anywhere in the book.

"After watching the show, I opened Malala's book myself and found no statements which Orya Maqbool Jan alleged were in there. Contrary to the text quoted by Orya, Malala has written: 'My father also saw the book as offensive to Islam but believes strongly in freedom of speech. First, let's read the book and then why not respond with our own book, he suggested.' Similarly, Malala has mentioned Ahmadis in these words, 'Now we are a country of 180 million and more than 96% are Muslim. We also have around two million Christians and more than two million Ahmadis, who say they are Muslims though our government says they are not. Sadly those minority communities are often attacked.'

"After reading the correct phrases from the book myself, it was easy to see that the thesis prepared by Orya Maqbool Jan and Ansar Abbasi against Malala, for allegedly 'supporting' Salman Rushdie and Ahmadis [Ahmadi Muslims], was all based on fabrication. The text quoted by Orya Maqbool Jan happened to be a blatant lie and the exposition of this dishonesty, in effect, justifies Dr. Hoodbhoy's position, along with proving his stance as correct….

"Ansar Abbasi repeatedly referred to Dr. Hoodbhoy as a 'jahil' for advocating Malala…. Abbasi posed two highly sensitive questions towards Dr. Hoodbhoy, and then went on to tarnish his reputation as a professor by stating('An ignoramus who has been chosen to teach at one of our prime institutions, I don't understand what this ignoramus teaches there.') Not only was this brouhaha terribly ugly… it was incredibly unprofessional for the news channel to let it stay on-air…. I was in possession of the book and was able to verify the facts for myself; however, those among the audience who have not read the book will be inclined to believe the misleading statements …. What was even more unsettling was the way the host, Kamran Shahid, seems to have taken a backseat during the entire conversation and started giggling when the guest speakers started exchanging insults. He allowed the open use of abuse and hate speech on his show…."


[1] The original English of the articles cited in this dispatch has been mildly edited for standardization and clarity. The excerpts of Malala Yousafzai's book cited by the authors in this dispatch have not been cross-checked with the book for their accuracy.

[4] Roznama Dunya (Pakistan), October 21, 2013.

[5] The News (Pakistan), October 22, 2013.

[6] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), October 28, 2013.

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