Some private schools in Pakistan have banned teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai’s book, calling her a tool of the West, according to the head of an association representing them.
Malala attracted global attention last year when the Taliban shot her in the head in northwest Pakistan for criticising the group. She released a memoir in October, I Am Malala, that was co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb.
Adeeb Javedani, the president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, said on Sunday that his group banned Malala’s book from the libraries of its 40,000 affiliated schools.
He said Malala was representing the West, not Pakistan.
Kashif Mirza, the chairman of the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, said his group also has banned Malala’s book in its affiliated schools.
Malala “was a role model for children, but this book has made her controversial”, Mirza said. “Through this book, she became a tool in the hands of the Western powers. […] We are not against Malala. She is our daughter and she is herself confused about her book.”
He said the book did not show enough respect for Islam because it mentioned Prophet Muhammad’s name without using the abbreviation PBUH – “peace be upon him” – as is customary in many parts of the Muslim world.
Malala has become an international hero for opposing the Taliban and standing up for girls’ education. But conspiracy theories have flourished in Pakistan that her shooting was staged to create a hero for the West.
The conspiracy theories around Malala reflect the level of influence that right-wing groups sympathetic to the Taliban have in Pakistan.
They also reflect the poor state of education in Pakistan, where fewer than half the country’s children ever complete a basic primary education.
Millions of children attend private school throughout the country because of the poor state of the public system.