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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 3 March 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Malala and the Mockingbird


By Mashhood Roohul Amin

3 March 2014

In 1960, US fiction writer Harper Lee wrote one of America’s most famous novels, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” providing a glimpse of social conflict in those times. It also addresses issues of class, courage, compassion and gender roles.

Atticus Finch, the character of Lee’s novel, provides air guns to his kids, allowing them to kill any bird they see except the mockingbirds.

According to Finch, mockingbirds do no harm to anyone. They just spread music wherever they go.

To kill a mocking bird has a metaphorical meaning too: Taking advantage of someone weaker than you.

A number of famous people, including Princes Diana and music sensation Michael Jackson bore the brunt of being taken advantage of in one degree or the other. Diana and Jackson met with what the Londoners say at large: Media harassment.

Pakistan’s Malala Yousufzai, who is flying high these days, is being treated by her supporters in an entirely different way.

Yousafzai, who recently visited a Syrian camp in Jordan, faced an assassination attempt in 2012 at the beginning of her journey, enabling her to see society from an entirely different angle.

The Taliban shot her for creating education awareness among women and highlighting atrocities committed by the militant group, especially in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. She was taken to UK for treatment where she got well and now lives there with her family.

Soon after the incident, many of her supporters made a heroine out of her. Later, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize Award. Her friends are now using her to advance their own agenda, making a symbol out of her and urging young women around the world, especially in Muslims countries, to follow her path.

In the past couple of months, especially after writing the controversial book, “I am Malala,” Yousafzai has made a lot of moral and ideological enemies.

Like many other great people, she may be strong enough as part of a larger group or society, but as an individual, she remains a mockingbird in the hand of others.

Once those who support Malala find her less worthy, they would take out the supporting wall, leaving no option for her except to return back to the native country and face the Taliban’s threat once again.