Malala Yousafzai and the Misrepresentation of Muslim Women in the West: Part 3

Islam, Western Discourse, and the Politics of Framing

After Malala’s relocation to Birmingham in Northern England for emergency medical treatment, the Pakistani faction of the Taliban issued a statement which said that if she were to return to her native country, she would once again be targeted by their forces who would attempt to take her life. In her book Malala speaks about how difficult she finds it not to be able to return to “your homeland, where your fathers and forefathers were born and where you have centuries of history, it’s very painful” (Yousafzai and Lamb, XX). However, as upsetting as this was for Malala, it could hardly have been unexpected. Not only did the Taliban make it perfectly clear with the first attempt on her life that they were prepared to murder anyone who spoke out against them, but the worldwide support that she gained in the days after the shooting were more than enough to confirm to them that she was an influential figur


Malala Yousafzai and the Misrepresentation of Muslim Women in the West: Part 2

White Saviours, White Feminists, and Brown Women’s Voices

The figure of the ‘white saviour’ is predominantly discussed in the field of film studies, but finds its footing firmly in reality. This commonly used trope presents itself in the form of a “white messianic character [saving] a lower- or working-class, usually urban or isolated, non-white character from a sad fate” (Hughey, The White Saviour Film). From the very start of colonisation, it had been the view of white men that it was their duty to ‘save’ people of colour from their ‘savage’ existence, mainly doing so by converting them to Christianity, taking control of their lands, and exploiting their resources. Rudyard Kipling’s 1899 poem entitled ‘The White Man’s Burden’ encapsulates the attitude of racial superiority that fuelled and justified the colonisation of vast continents and the awful treatment of their people:

Malala Yousafzai and the Misrepresentation of Muslim Women in the West: Part 1

On October 9th 2012, while travelling on her school bus, 14 year old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman. Malala had gained fame in the years preceding this for writing about her experiences living in Taliban-occupied Swat Valley in Pakistan for the BBC’s Urdu news website in 2009. She also spoke out against the Taliban for preventing girls from going to school, which earned her Pakistan’s first ever National Youth Peace Prize in 2011, and after she had recovered from the shooting, in 2014 she became the youngest person to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala continues to campaign globally for the education of women and girls around the world, all while still attending school herself in Birmingham, England.