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War of words in wake of Malala shooting

Taliban sympathizers say media has hyped reports

War of words in wake of Malala shooting
Crowds gather in protest against Malala's shooting reporter, Lahore

October 18, 2012

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As 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai recovers from a Taliban gun attack, recriminations and justifications are flying. Malala, known as a champion of education for children and females, was flown to the UK this week after being shot at point blank range by gunmen from Pakistan’s Tehreek e Taliban terror group. According to the latest reports, she is now out of a coma and has a good chance of recovery. She “remained in a stable condition and continued to impress doctors by responding well to her care,” said a statement from Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital yesterday. Sajjad Cheema, regional manager of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Children, responded to the incident by saying “no human logic can justify trying to kill a 14-year- old for wanting education.” He was speaking at a media briefing yesterday on the country’s child protection laws. He and other speakers urged the state to make greater efforts to protect children’s rights,  especially in Pakistan’s conflicted regions. Cheema also slammed statements issued by the Taliban, which described Malala as “a spy of the West” and “a secular-minded person.” Ehsanullah Eshan, main spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, used references from the Qu’ran to justify the shooting,  saying that Malala deserved to die because she had spoken out against the Mujahideen – fighters for the Muslim cause –  and had praised US President Barack Obama. “Islam orders the killing of those who are spying for enemies,” he said. Cheema reacted angrily to this, saying: “The administration must deal strictly with people who make prophetic statements and try to confuse the nation.” Some political parties and religious groups with Taliban sympathies have blamed the media for creating a disproportionate amount of hype around the shooting. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of the strict fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal party, asked "Why is this attack on Malala being exaggerated so much, while nobody talks of the lives of 40,000 Pakistani civilians and military personnel that have been lost?” Other commentators have pointed out that there has been less media reaction to the deaths of Pakistanis caused by US drone strikes. But Saeeda Deep, founder of the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies, said she was surprised by the depth of anger over the shooting expressed by the people of Pakistan. “This is the first time I have seen conservative groups crying and condemning the Taliban,” she said. Meanwhile, the federal government has announced that Malala is to be awarded a Sitara-e-Shujaat (Star of Bravery), one of the country's top civil decorations . Related reports:
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