People in the News: Malala Yousafzai | Level 8 | By Little Fox

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[Series Introduction]

Young newscasters Ben and Olivia introduce well-known people from around the world. These “people in the news” have accomplished extraordinary things in science, sports, music, business, politics, and more!


OLIVIA: Hello, Little Fox readers, and welcome to the latest edition of People in the News. Today Ben will be introducing us to Malala Yousafzai. She’s the teenager who was shot in 2012 for defending the rights of girls to attend school. Two years later, at age 17, she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala certainly doesn’t sound like a typical high school student, Ben!

BEN: She's not, Olivia. But in some ways she’s just like other kids!

Malala was born on July 12, 1997, in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Her father was an educator who founded three schools. From an early age, Malala was eager to attend school. Once she started, she became an excellent—and very competitive—student. She always wanted to be first in her class.
Malala was also an observant child. She noticed that men and women were treated differently in Pakistan, and that didn’t seem fair. Women were expected to stay home and take care of their families. They had to wear veils to hide their faces from men. When Malala announced that she would never cover her face, her mother was horrified, but her father supported her.
While Malala was growing up, the Taliban was gaining control of the area where Malala lived. The Taliban is an Islamic militant group that interprets Islamic law very strictly, and restricts women's activities. In 2007 a Taliban leader declared that local women were not allowed to go out in public. The Taliban also wanted the girls to stop going to school. Everyone was forbidden to watch TV and movies.
At night Malala could hear the sounds of bombs exploding and machine guns firing.

OLIVIA: That sounds really frightening!

BEN: It was. The Pakistani army tried to force the Taliban out of the Swat Valley. Finally, after a year and a half, the Taliban went into hiding.
But the Taliban soon struck back with a series of terrorist attacks. In 2008 they bombed two hundred schools and killed many individuals who stood up to them.
Malala worried about her father because he’d been receiving threatening letters. The Taliban considered his schools, which educated females, an insult to Islam. Malala’s father also spoke out against the school bombings. With his encouragement, Malala began to make speeches too, which were broadcast on TV and radio, and reported in newspapers. In December 2008 the Taliban ordered all girls in Swat to stop going to school as of January 15, 2009. This meant that fifty thousand girls couldn’t attend school anymore! Even before the deadline, many girls stopped going to school because they were afraid.
Meanwhile the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) asked Malala’s father if he knew of a teacher or high school student willing to blog about life under the Taliban. But everyone was too afraid of the Taliban to write about them—until 11-year-old Malala volunteered for the job.
The BBC insisted she use a pseudonym to hide her identity. In two months she wrote 35 blog entries; she also continued to speak against the Taliban. The BBC made two documentaries about her. By the end of 2009, everyone realized that Malala was the BBC blogger.
Over the next two years, she got even more attention. She received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, which was later renamed the Malala Prize.
She was also nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. But the Taliban also noticed her, and she began receiving death threats from them.

OLIVIA: So did she stop speaking out about girls’ rights?
. . .

[Little Fox Introduction]

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