The Sad, Hateful, Insecure Non-Apology the Taliban Sent to Malala

By Olga Khazan
malala-banner.jpg
Reuters

A senior figure in the Pakistani Taliban has written the teen education advocate Malala Yousafzai a letter expressing "shock" that she was shot by a Taliban gunman last year on board a school bus, saying, "I wished it would never happened and I had advised you before."

Some headlines cast this as the Taliban saying they "regret" the attack, but the document seems more like a justification than an apology. In fact, it reads, perhaps unsurprisingly, like the howlings of a deranged, insecure extremist, one taking a stab at personal PR without backing down from the hatred that motivated Malala's shooting in the first place.

Though the writer, Adnan Rasheed, claims that he has "brotherly" feelings toward Malala's family, much of his screed consists of fearful ranting over the vast -- and apparently Jewish -- conspiracy to instill secularism among Muslims, complete with the occasional use of the punctuation of choice among intoxicated celebrities and crazy exes: the multiple question mark.

There were thousands of girls who were going to school and college before and after the Taliban insurgency in swat, would you explain why were only you on their hit list???

Rasheed accused Malala of conducting a "smear campaign" against the Taliban, and said it was that -- not her educational advocacy -- that motivated the attack against her.

Taliban never attacked you because of going to school or you were education lover, also please mind that Taliban or Mujahideen are not against the education of any men or women or girl. Taliban believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smearing campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system in swat and your writings were provocative.

Throughout, Rasheed doubles down on the idea that he's not against education -- just education of the non-Islamic variety (so ... most education).

The place you were speaking to the world is heading towards new world order, I want to know what is wrong the old world order? They want to establish global education, global economy, global army, global trade, global government and finally global religion. I want to know is there any space for the prophetic guidance in all above global plans? Is there any space for Islamic sharia or Islamic law to which UN call inhumane and barbaric?

When the Taliban took over Malala's home region, Pakistan's Swat valley, in 2007, they ordered all girls' schools closed. She and her family fled to Abbottabad, and in 2009 the Pakistani Army kicked most Taliban fighters out of Swat. After she was shot last October, Pakistani Taliban spokesmen said that "if Malala survives, we'll target her again" because she's a "secular-minded lady." That doesn't sound like someone who "wished it had not happened."

At the end of his letter, Rasheed inadvertently illustrates why Malala's call for universal schooling is so crucial. He suggests his own solution for her educational needs: that she attend only a religious, segregated school near her home.

I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and pushtoon culture, join any female Islamic madrassa near your home town, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah and reveal the conspiracy of tiny elite who want to enslave the whole humanity for their evil agendas in the name of new world order.

It's a bad idea to try to publicly logic away your hatred. It's not like we expected better of the Taliban, but this is not a statement of remorse, it's a self-pat-on-the-back.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/07/the-sad-hateful-insecure-non-apology-the-taliban-sent-to-malala/277896/