After Malala Yousafzai’s interview with the British Vogue, the young activist has found herself in the midst of a new and rather uncalled for controversy after her comments on marriage and relationships went viral on Pakistani Twitter.
“I still don’t understand why people have to get married,” said the 23-years old activist.
“If you want to have a person in your life, why do you have to sign marriage papers, why can’t it just be a partnership?” she says in the chatty tail end of the article, which covers a range of topics, from how she coped with graduating from Oxford during a pandemic to her desire eventually to move out of her parents’ home.
The interviewer writes, “Her mother – like most mothers – disagrees. “My mum is like,” Yousafzai laughs, ” ‘Don’t you dare say anything like that! You have to get married, marriage is beautiful.’ “
Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, while speaking to the media after the interview, said that his daughter’s words had been twisted by “trolls.” “Social media misinterpreted what she said, taking selective things out of context changing it and interpreting it,” he wrote in a Twitter message in response to a request for comment.
But this has not stopped a wave of hate against Malala on the social media platforms after she candidly expressed her opinion on the issue.
The provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa debated the young activist’s views on marriage. The issue was raised by PPP lawmaker from Upper Dir district Sahibzada Sanaullah on a point of order.
Saying Malala’s interview to the British Vogue magazine is circulating on the mainstream and social media for some days, he demanded of the government to probe whether the Nobel laureate really made those marriage remarks or not.
The member insisted that life partnership was not allowed in any religion and if Malala favoured it, then the stand was condemnable.
“She [Malala] should clarify if she has not made that statement,” said the lawmaker, who had quit the Jamaat-i-Islami to join the PPP.
Inayatullah Khan of the MMA said the marriage remarks attributed to the Nobel laureate had damaged her personality. He said Malala’s father should clarify if it was a slip of tongue or she was quoted out of context.
“Following Muslim and Pakhtun values is Malala’s identity,” he said, adding that the activist was also criticised by her followers.
However, opposition Awami National Party’s Nisar Khan and ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Ziaullah Bangash defended Malala and her family’s position on the issue.
“Malala is the daughter of Pakhtun nation, who faced terrorists with bravery. I condemn the resolution moved against her in the house,” Mr Nisar said.
Similarly, the activist found support and opposition from social media users as well.
“I love how much Malala impacts are insecure Pakistani men. I just love how much power she holds over them,” tweeted a user.
Others used verses from the scriptures to bring weight to their side of the argument, like this user.
Amidst this Malala also saw support from some Pakistani celebrities such as singer Ali Sehti. Sethi shared a picture of Malala from the Vogue shoot with a caption in her support. The picture said “Malala Zindabad” along with saying “P.S if you’re really triggered by a young woman’s totally harmless abstract speculation about the efficiency of marriage and find yourself frothing at the mouth (cuz you feel like the earth will end or whatever) please know that my own ideas and beliefs are so much worse.”
Amidst all this, the hashtag #ShameOnMalala trended on Pakistani twitter for a day.