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Why I can’t celebrate Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this Friday to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai for their struggles against the suppression of children and for young people’s rights, including the right to education.

That is great news, and it might almost mean Nobel Peace Prize makes sense again.

Mind you that this year prize is meaningful after being awarded to Barack Obama in 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”,

This prize  was also awarded to European Union in 2012 “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe” (at least this make sense, while the Obama excuse is pretty lame and totally erroneous).

(Again, international politics abridge the years that a person has to struggle before being considered for a prize. Though Kailash Satyarthi has already served his dues after 14 years of steadfast struggles to prohibit kids from being used as labor in India. He managed to save 75,000 kids from this awful state of slavery)

Still, there is something that really troubles me. How come we (meaning the West) always recognize the “devils” of the East, the torments children like Malala had to and have to go through (in her case, with the Taliban), but always fail to recognize our own participation in creating those “devils”?

How come we never talk about the things our governments are doing to the children of Pakistan, or Syria, or Iraq, or Palestine, or Yemen?

Let’s just take drone strikes as an example. Last year’s tweet by George Galloway might illustrate this hypocrisy.

10494696_10205086935471637_7493940445304227766_n

Galloway is absolutely right. We would never even know her name.

But, since Malala’s story fits into the western narrative of the oriental oppression (in which the context underlying the creation of the oppression is left out), we all know Malala’s name. Like Assed Baig writes:

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized.

Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armour to save her. 

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations the wars all seem justified now, ‘see, we told you, this is why we intervene to save the natives.’”

The problem is, there are thousands of Malalas that the West helped create with endless wars, occupations, interventions, drone strikes, etc.

In Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, one can hear how little we know about the drone strikes – its aims, targets, results. Right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone, anywhere on Earth, at any time, for secret reasons based on secret evidence, in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials. That frightens me.

This is how Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown professor and former Pentagon official under President Obama, explained the US policy on drone strikes during a congressional hearing last year.

The following photo presents the piece that was installed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, close to Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan, by an art collective that includes Pakistanis, Americans and others associated with the French artist JR.

The collective said it produced the work in the hope that U.S. drone operators will see the human face of their victims in a region that has been the target of frequent strikes.

foto/photo via notabugsplat/

That is the reality we are not being presented with.

Another reality is the story of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, 14-year-old Iraqi girl, who was gang raped by five U.S. Army soldiers and killed in her house in Yusufiyah (Iraq) in 2006.

She was raped and murdered after her parents and six-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza were killed.

Also not irrelevant to mention is that Abeer was going to school before the US invasion but had to stop going because of her father’s concerns for her safety.

article-0-0C89D3B2000005DC-51_634x548Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi

And while the West applauds Malala (as they should), I am afraid it might be for the wrong reasons, or with a wrong perspective.

It feels like the West wants to gain an agenda that suits them or the policies they want.

That is also why Malala’s views on Islam are rarely presented.

She uses her faith as a framework to argue for the importance of education rather than making Islam a justification for oppression, but that is rarely mentioned. It also “doesn’t fit”.

So, my thoughts were mixed this Friday when I heard the news about the Nobel Peace Prize. On so many levels. They still are. We’ve entered a new war, and peace prize award ceremonies seem ridiculous after looking at this photo.

tumblr_nd1ycaClBV1tgyqboo1_1280“They say that if God loves you, He will let you live a long life, but I wish that He loved me a little less. I wish that I didn’t live long enough to see my country in ruins.”  Ahmad, a 102 year old Syrian refugee /photo by A. McConnell, UNHCR/

Sure, we must acknowledge the efforts of those who are fighting for a better world, but when it is done in a way that feels so calculated, unidimensional, loaded with secret agendas and tons of hypocrisy – I just can’t celebrate it.

Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, simply because she wanted to gain an education, it sent shockwaves around the world.

The Western media quickly took up the issue.  Western politicians spoke out and soon Malata was whisked to the UK.

The way in which the West reacted did make me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala’s case was taken up and not so many others.

Assed Baig posted this July 13, 2013:

“There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education. There is however a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

Is this a story of a native girl being saved by the white man? 

Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation.  It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized.

Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case.  The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armor to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations, the preemptive wars… all seem justified now: “See? We told you, this is why we intervene to save the natives.”

The truth is that there are thousands of other Malalas.  They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world.

Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt also known as the white man’s burden.

Gordon Brown stood at the UN and spoke words in support for Malala. And yet, he is the very same Gordon Brown that voted for the war in Iraq that not only robbed people of their education but of their lives.

The same journalists that failed to question or report on the Western wars in an intelligible manner now sing the praises of the West as they back Malala and her campaign without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan.

Malala’s message is true, it is profound, it is something the world needs to take note of; education is a right of every child…

Malala has been used as a tool by the West.  It allows countries like Britain to hide their sins in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It allows journalists to report a feel good story whilst they neglect so many others, like the American drone strikes that terrorize men, women and children in Pakistan’s border regions.

The current narrative continues the demonization of the non-white Muslim man.  Painting him as a savage, someone beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is to wage war, occupy and use drones against them.

NATO is bombing to save girls like Malala is the message.

Historically the West has always used women to justify the actions of war mongering men.  It is in the imagery, it is in art, in education, it is even prevalent in Western human rights organisations, Amnesty International’s poster campaign coinciding with the NATO summit in New York encouraged NATO to ‘keep the progress going!’ in Afghanistan.

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were also shot along with Malala, the media and politicians seem to have forgotten about them.

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi – how many of the Western politicians and journalists know about this name?  She was the 14-year-old girl gang raped by five US soldiers, then her and her family, including her 6-year-old sister were murdered.  There are no days named after her, no mentions of her at the UN, and we don’t see Gordon Brown pledging his name to her cause.

I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of Western politicians and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused.

Malala is the good native, she does not criticize the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native.

The Western savior complex has hijacked Malala’s message.

The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have.  The West has denied more girls an education via their missiles than the Taliban has by their bullets.  The West has done more against education around the world than extremists could ever dream of.

So, please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala.

Follow Assed Baig on Twitter: www.twitter.com/assedbaig


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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