is a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora.
Swat has been inhabited for over two thousand years. The first occupants created well-planned towns. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Udegram and Barikot and stormed their battlements. In Greek accounts, these towns have been identified as Ora and Bazira, respectively. Around the 2nd century BC, the area was occupied byBuddhists, who were attracted by the peace and serenity of the land. There are many remains that testify to their skills as sculptors and architects. … [see more]
BY Adam B. Ellick and Irfan Ashraf | Oct. 9, 2012 | 32:51
A 2009 documentary by Adam B. Ellick profiled Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl whose school was shot down by the Taliban. Ms. Yousafzai was shot by a gunman on Oct. 9, 2012. [watch now]
BY Gabe Johnson and Adam B. Ellick | Oct. 7, 2013 | 11:06
The story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl, told by The Times’s Adam B. Ellick, who made a 2009 documentary about her before she was an international star. [watch now]
PBS NewsHour Extra | Oct.15, 2013 | 10:03
Malala hopes to earn the prize of “seeing every child go to school”. [watch now]
“[My father] hated the fact that most people would not speak up. In his pocket he kept a poem written by Martin Niemoller, who had lived in Nazi Germany.
“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Catholic.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
I knew he was right. If people were silent nothing would change.”
“Some people only ask others to do something. I believe that, why should I wait for someone else? Why don’t I take a step and move forward?”
“Malala used to be known as my daughter, but now I am know as her father – and proud of it.”
“If you want to end war, then instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers.”
A Fabulous Pakistani/Indian Meal
Catherine served a beautiful and delicious Malala-themed meal at our book club meeting. Spiced Chai Tea, Chicken Tikka Masala, White Rice, Naan Bread, and for dessert, Rice Kheer. Fabulous! Find her recipes here and here.
Warm up questions
- Why do some people in other parts of the world want to keep girls from having an education?
- Where is Pakistan? What do you know about the country?
- How can education opportunities change a society?
- Malala has said, “Let us pick up our book and our pens. They are our most powerful weapon.” Explain the significance of this quote in the context of her experience as a girl in the Swat Region of Pakistan as well as a member of the global community.
- Do you think it is a worth-while goal to ensure that every child has the opportunity to be educated? Explain your answer.
- What are the characteristics of a hero? Is Malala Yousafzai a hero? Defend your answer.
1. Would you have had the bravery that Malala exhibited and continues to exhibit?
2. Talk about the role of Malala’s parents, especially her father, Ziauddin. If you were her parents, would you have encouraged her to write and speak out?
3. How does Malala describe the affect of the growing Taliban presence in her region? Talk about the rules they imposed on the citizens in the Swat valley. What was life like?
4. Mala has said that despite the Taliban’s restrictions against girls/women, she remains a proud believer. Would you—could you—maintain your faith given those same restrictions? *
5. Talk about the reaction of the international community after Malala’s shooting. Has the outrage made a difference…has it had any effect?
6. What can be done about female education in the Middle East and places like Pakistan? What are the prospects? Can one girl, despite her worldwide fame, make a difference? Why does the Taliban want to prevent girls from acquiring an education—how do they see the female role? *
7. This is as good a time as any to talk about the Taliban’s power in the Muslim world. Why does it continue to grow and attract followers…or is it gaining new followers? What attraction does it have for Muslim men? Can it ever be defeated?
* LitLovers received an email sharing the following perspective, which draws a clear distinction between the Muslim faith and Taliban practices. The email relates to Questions 4 and 6, respectively:
There is no “overt” Muslim prejudice against women. Although there are some customs in Islam specifically intended for women, these customs are for a reason. Everything has a reason. The Taliban, however, take things to a far new level. They overtly shed women of certain rights they deserve. There is a distinction between Islamic rules and customs and Taliban discrimination.
Muslims do not prevent women from acquiring an education. It is the Taliban that does so. Educating women is encouraged in Islam. One of the biggest Muslim scholars was in fact a woman…. Like Malala, I am sad the Taliban carry out their activities in the name of Islam. And I am glad her story is being heard… —Sarah, a student.