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Students at “Govt Malala College” protest renaming fearing backlash

Published Dec 12, 2012 12:51pm

Malala Yousafzai at a hospital in Birmingham, UK. – File photo by Reuters
Malala Yousafzai at a hospital in Birmingham, UK. – File photo by Reuters

PESHAWAR: Angry Pakistani girls protested on Wednesday against the renaming of their school after shot teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, saying the move would make them a target for militants.

Around 150 students boycotted classes at what is now the Government Malala College for Girls in Saidu Sharif, in the Swat Valley, tearing up and stoning pictures of the 15-year-old, accusing her of abandoning Pakistan by going to Britain for treatment.

The Pakistan government has renamed numerous schools in honour of Malala, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in October for championing girls’ education in Swat and is now recovering in a British hospital.

The students at what was previously known as the Government College for Girls said they had repeatedly asked the principal to remove the plate with the new name, fearing it would invite the attention of militants.

“We came out when the principal finally refused to accept our demand,” student Shaista Ahmed said. “We feel the college would be the potential target of militants.

“I joined others who chanted slogans against Malala and pelted stones on her picture because she had left the country to settle abroad. We are poor, we cannot afford it and we will suffer because she has fled to Britain.”

Local government official Niaz Ali Khan told AFP the protesting students were “very angry and aggressive” and tore up a portrait of Malala which the authorities had erected on a college wall after the Taliban attack.

“The students ended their protest after we promised to convey their demand to the authorities,” he said.

Student Mah Noor, 19, said: “Malala herself is in Britain but other girls will remain in Swat. She will not come back to Pakistan, then what is the need to rename the college after her?”

Malala first rose to prominence aged just 11 with a blog for the BBC Urdu service in 2009 in which she described life in Swat during the bloody rule of the Taliban.

Taliban hit-men shot her on her school bus in Mingora, the main town in Swat, for the “crime” of campaigning for girls’ rights to go to school, but she survived after surgery in Pakistan.

She was sent to Britain for further treatment and her courage has won the hearts of millions around the world, prompting the United Nations to observe a “global day of action” for her last month.

Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai, a former teacher and headmaster, has been appointed UN adviser on education.

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Comments (19) Closed

Dec 12, 2012 03:34pm
It shows the real thoughts of people of Sawat, liberals cant brain wash this society by throwing every thing against so called Talibans.
Dec 12, 2012 08:08pm
How can we complain about having no heroes, when this is how we treat them? Stone and scorn them for being better than us.
Dec 12, 2012 03:31pm
I think each reason should be viewed at its own merit. Extreme would hit again if they see the girls school renamed, Mala, seems to be a valid argument. Her father has taken a job with United Nations as Education Adviser, and the family is not returning, then why name after her, is the second argument, specially she would not be part of they system where the extremist do not allow girls to get educated. Malala for them is no longer, like them, part of the oppressed society. Staying abroad means, she is part of a society that is privileged This argument also seem to be a valid argument. So, let us weigh the arguments, and not roll it up as an attempt by propagandist.
Dec 12, 2012 06:40pm
asifa should be renamed as malala too.
Dec 13, 2012 12:40am
My sympathies are with these school girls whose lives are at much greater risk now because of the renaming of the school to represent "Malala. People who wanted to harm Malala have good reason to harm girls getting education from any institution named after her, as well. The government should ensure security of these innocent girls who want to get education. The government is not doing any service to the cause of educating these innocent girls by branding the school as "Malala". This step will not only put the future of education of these girls at risk, but may also risk their precious lives. Which parent in Swat would risk sending their kids to schools which unnecessarily attract the attention of terrorists? The family of Malala has gone to the UK, and they are not returning. The western world wants to own them, and use them for their own objectives. However, the terrorists who tried to kill her and the other girls getting education from the same school are very much in Swat. I request the government to look after the security of the local girls now. Do not put their lives at unnecessary risk by branding the schools as Malala. Hope the sense prevails!
Dec 12, 2012 07:18pm
I am pretty sure that Malala and her family is going to settle in UK and is not going to come back to Pakistan.
Dec 12, 2012 04:31pm
To student Mah Noor: mulla Fazlullah himself is in Afghanistan, but you and others remain in Swat. He, like Malala, will not be coming back to Pakistan in the near future. So what is the need to throw stones, protest and disrupt your education ?
Dec 12, 2012 07:50pm
No one is foolish enough to think that the Government can protect these students against any future attacks. I think Malala's parents did the right thing in taking her away. But the best the Government could do for thousands of other girls in Swat was rename schools? How about improving existing schools and colleges. They have minimal facilities. But no, that will require funds and commitment (while re-naming schools would cost nothing). Those at the helm do not even want to pay their personal taxes, forget about generating funds.
Dec 12, 2012 06:22pm
these people attacking Malala are Taliban sympathisers, let us not beat about the bush. If they don't like the name they don't need to study there. The Principal should evict the trouble makers among the students. Let them face a life of ignorance if that is what they want. But the school must keep the name of Malala. Extremism can only be crushed by education for girls.
Dec 12, 2012 03:56pm
I have been wondering for sometime how long this idolising Malala will last in Pakistan. She had become a symbol for international girl child eduction and even people outside have been suggesting her name for Nobel prize. Now, people can say that such as this incident right in the Swat Valley is due to fear complex of Taliban repraisal but tearing Malaa pictures and stoning her posters can neither be understood nor supported by anyone.
Dec 12, 2012 04:16pm
It is quite possible that the renaming will attract backlash. While there is no evidence that the situation has improved which led to the attack on Malala, those responsible to improve it are doing what they know at best, rename an existing public institution. "Shaheed" Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Government Malala College for Girls etc. First bring the real change on ground and that will be the real honour to the victims.
Dec 12, 2012 06:18pm
The attitude of the students reflects the general attitude in the country and is just another indication that Pakistan is, or will soon be, a failed stated.
Abdul j Sheikh
Dec 12, 2012 06:29pm
There is a limit to everything. Malala issue is way over publicized by various group for their own political gains. I have full sympathy for the Malala.
Dec 12, 2012 01:21pm
Why rename an existing institution. Build a new one.
Asif Kahsmiri
Dec 12, 2012 01:26pm
what madness is this now
Moiz Hussain
Dec 12, 2012 01:43pm
The narrative is changing again. These girls, as reported earlier during the tragic incident, were crying in support for Malala. But these propagandist have yet again successfully distorted the facts by spreading vile and hatred into the minds of the locals. This propagandist machinery is so organized and effective, that the voice of liberals and civil society can never compete the narrative.
Dec 12, 2012 01:55pm
No one would get admission there.
Dec 12, 2012 02:01pm
I am surprised at lack of deliberation by the officials regarding hurried move of changing the name of institutions to Malala.
Dec 12, 2012 02:22pm
Also she was shoot in the head where is the wound?

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