Nobel laureate Malala urges Taliban to lift girls’ school ban


Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has written a letter to the Taliban urging them to let girls in Afghanistan return to school.

Ms. Yousafzai, who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban as a schoolgirl, urged the country’s new rulers to stop ‘denying millions their right to learn’.

“To the Taliban authorities … reverse the de facto ban on girls’ education and reopen girls’ secondary schools immediately,” Ms. Yousafzai and a number of Afghan women’s rights activists said in an open letter published on Sunday (Oct 17).

It has been a month since the hardline Islamist Taliban excluded girls from returning to secondary school while ordering boys back to class, after seizing power in August.

The militants previously said they will allow girls to return once they have ensured security and stricter segregation under their interpretation of Islamic law – but many are sceptical.

Ms. Yousafzai called on the leaders of Muslim nations to make it clear to the Taliban that “religion does not justify preventing girls from going to school”.

“Afghanistan is now the only country in the world that forbids girls’ education,” said the writers, who included the head of the Afghan human rights commission under the last US-backed government Shaharzad Akbar.

The authors called on G20 world leaders to provide urgent funding for an education plan for Afghan children.

A petition alongside the letter had on Monday received more than 640,000 signatures.

Education activist Ms. Yousafzai was shot by militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban, in her home town in the Swat valley while on a school bus in 2012.

Now 24 years old, Ms. Yousafzai advocates for girls’ education, with her non-profit Malala Fund that has invested US$2 million in Afghanistan. (Source: CNA)