Former Afghan MP Malalai Joya – who has survived several assassination attempts – describes the shooting of Malala Yousafzai as “a crime against women by dark-minded fundamentalists”.
Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai is receiving treatment in Britain after being critically injured by a Taliban gunman on her way to school in the Swat valley.
The teenager was targeted for campaigning about girls’ access to education.
Former Afghan MP Malalai Joya (pictured above), a critic of both the Taliban and the Karzai government, knows what it is like to be a target; she has survived six attempts on her life.
In 2005 Joya become the youngest person to be elected to the new Afghan parliament but she was dismissed for continuing to criticise the “warlords and drug barons” she says are destroying her country.
In a statement posted on her website, the 34-year-old descibed the Taliban’s latest attack on 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala as “a crime against women by dark-minded and brutal fundamentalists”.
She added: “Malala Yousafzai was shot by Pakistani Taliban because she did not remain silent about the ongoing crimes and brutalities against women; because, despite her young age, she had the consciousness to stand for her rights and say ‘no’ to the terrorism and misogyny of the creatures of the Stone Age.”
“This was a warning for those who only understand the language of the gun.
“This cowardly attack on her proves that these medieval-minded groups are aware of the potential power of awakened women and are afraid that she may become a role model for many more women. So they tried to stop her in the very beginning.
“But it was a failed attempt because, across Pakistan and around the whole world, people are on Malala’s side and they are condemning her enemies.”
Former prime minister Gordon Brown, who is UN special envoy for global education, said he would be visiting Pakistan next month to speak with President Asif Ali Zardari about Malala’s cause of education for girls.
He said: “I know that Britain will offer Malala the best treatment possible and the British people will welcome her, hoping and praying for her recovery.”
He added: “Today we are launching on a petition under the headline ‘I am Malala’ in support of what Malala fought for – that every girl has the chance to go to school.
“Today, sadly, 32 million girls are not going to school and it is time to fight harder for Malala’s dream to come true.”
The petition will be handed to Mr Zardari and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.