A girl who seeks knowledge, who carries a book, who wants to reach her potential, who speaks her mind -- all those traits terrify radical Islam. So it was that the Taliban of Pakistan stopped a bus and shot a brave little girl, 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, within her school bus. Malala survived the attack, and is now recuperating in the United Kingdom.
The shooting of Malala, an activist who has published a blog that, is a terrible, evil act. But it must be stressed that it is an act of fear. She represents a local resistance -- lodged deep within the heart of the rural areas that the Taliban attempts to inflict its evil -- that strikes fear in her assassins. She represents a future where religion is not an excuse to kill, oppress, beat, or hate. It's not surprising that the Taliban, even after the attempted murder, vows to find Malala and kill her. She exposes the bullying, murderous misogyny of the terrorists.
It is tempting for the United States, and other western democracies, to lionize this brave child. There's no doubt an instinct to shower her with awards, derived from western influences, and other honors. While we admire her bravery and hope all is done to protect her, turning Malala into a much-honored western icon of resistance to the Taliban is a mistake.
For her brave efforts to have the most impact, Pakistan must take the lead in making her a symbol of resistance to the Taliban. Her shooting has already solidified outrage and anger against the Taliban in Pakistan. More than 50 Islamic scholars there have publicly described the attack as "un-Islamic." Many Pakistan leaders have urged Pakistanis to avoid prayers by clergy who condone the shooting.
In order for the war on the terrorists to succeed, Pakistan's people must push back at the Taliban. That has not been easy. That nation is often at odds with our strategies. Even the killing of Osama bin Laden caused controversy.
But the shooting of a little girl with ideas that frighten the terrorists, virtually everyone can join together to push back against the hate that hatches such evil.