Pakistani teenager asks for name to be removed from school
The New York Times | December 22,2012
ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in October has asked a provincial government to reverse its decision to name a college after her, an official said Friday. But her request was not immediately granted.
The young woman, Malala Yousafzai, 15, who attained fame as an advocate for girls’ education, made the request out of concern for the safety of the school’s female students, said the official, Kamran Rehman, the top civilian in the Swat Valley. Malala, who was gravely wounded in the Oct. 9 attack and is being treated in a British hospital, had become a highly visible symbol of resistance against the Taliban in an area where the militants held sway until a Pakistani army offensive in 2009.
Last month the Swat Valley government changed the name of the Government Girls Degree College to the Government Malala Yousafzai Girls Degree College. But earlier this month more than 100 students protested the decision, tearing down a poster of Malala and throwing stones.
“The female students were feeling apprehensive,” Rehman said. They feared “that the change in name might lead to an attack on their college and endanger their lives.”
The college closed after the protest, with the authorities sending home the students early for their winter break.
Rehman said Malala called him from Britain on Monday “and requested that because of the concerns of female students, the name of the college should be reverted back to its original name.”
He said the Swat government would consider Malala’s request.
“The request has been communicated to the provincial government,” Rehman said. “It is the final deciding authority.”
Rehman said no militants were known to have issued threats against the college, which has a student body of about 1,800.
“The army is helping the civilian government to maintain law and order,” he said, adding, “Enhanced security is a routine for us.”
Malala is said to be recovering steadily. Pictures of her released in November showed her reading a book.