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Countering extremism: Malala and the Nobel

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Today, the Nobel committee awarded its Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. The Los Angeles Times reported:

“The committee said the pair will receive the award `for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people…’. … The decision was also packed with symbolism: a shared award for a Pakistani and an Indian, both struggling…in two neighboring rival powers.”

In response to the announcement, Slate magazine reprinted a commentary by William Dobson that first ran in 2012, when Malala was shot by the Taliban. Dobson’s assessment bears revisiting:

“A teenage girl speaking for girls’ education is just about the most terrifying thing in the world for the Taliban. She is not some Western NGO activist who just parachuted into Pashtun country… She is far more dangerous than that: a local, living advocate of progress, education, and enlightenment. If people like Yousafzai were to multiply, the Taliban would have no future.

…[C]ountries that become wealthier, safer, more stable, and civically active don’t offer much of a future for the medieval Islamist throwbacks who set out…to kill Yousafzai. So we shouldn’t be surprised that she topped their target list.”

It’s worth keeping in mind “the power of one” as Malala and her Nobel counterpart continue what the committee described as “a common struggle for education and against extremism.”


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