Many of you have been shocked by the story of Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year old Pakistani girl shot in the head by a Taliban terrorist because of a blog she wrote and interviews she gave starting in 2009, criticizing the Taliban and calling for the education of women.
This lovely, self-possessed girl, who speaks and writes on a level far above her age, and who planned to enter politics (video), may or may not survive. If she does not, it will be an enormous loss for Pakistan and for the world.
This is not simply an atrocity of war. This was not done out of hatred, anger or because someone was crazy. Nobody lost control in the heat of battle or was infuriated by a ridiculous YouTube video. No low-level extremist was responsible for this.
No, it was something else entirely. Read about the letter sent by the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership to international media today:
The letter, written in English, says a Taliban gunman “successfully targeted” Yousafzai “although she was young and a girl and the TTP does not believe in attacking women.” It says Yousafzai, who gained global recognition at the age of 11 through an online diary she wrote for the BBC about TTP influence in her hometown of Mingora, was shot because “whom so ever leads a campaign against Islam and Shariah is ordered to be killed by Shariah.”
The letter accuses Yousafzai of being “pro-West,” promoting Western culture, and speaking out against Taliban militants — charging that Yousafzai’s “personality became a symbol of an anti-Shariah campaign.” Using the term for Islamic holy warriors to refer to Taliban militants, the letter says that “Yousafzai was playing a vital role in bucking up the emotions” of Pakistan’s military and government “and was inviting Muslims to hate mujahideen.”
The letter goes on to argue that “[i]t is a clear command of Shariah that any female who, by any means, plays a role in the war against mujahideen should be killed.” It then seeks to justify the shooting of the schoolgirl by citing passages from the Koran in which a child or woman was killed…
The Taliban’s justification concludes with a threat, saying: “If anyone thinks that Malala is targeted because of education, that’s absolutely wrong and is propaganda by media. Malala is targeted because of her pioneer role in preaching secularism and so-called enlightened moderation. And whom so ever will commit so in the future too will be targeted again by the TTP.”
The TTP also warned that if she survives, they will try again, and that it is intended as a warning to other children.
The Taliban has thus provided a coldblooded ideological and strategic explanation of their actions, a clear window into their thinking.
And what do we see through this window? For one thing, the emptiness of the idea that all disputes are based on a lack of understanding or communication between the sides. No amount of ‘communication’ can make me accept or understand the principle that promoting secularism is a death penalty crime for an eighth-grader.
We also see that these are not abnormal humans who are missing their moral senses. They are not Ted Bundy or Charles Manson. They are logically acting on the implications of the ideology that they are committed to, the ideology which informs their moral perceptions in the first place.
The ideology is Shari’a, Islamic law. A demand for strict observance of Shari’a characterizes radical Islamists everywhere, from Iran to Pakistan, to the UK.
Do I need to add that this ideology is evil and repugnant?