The Pakistani Taliban Thursday said teenage activist Malala Yousafzai had done “nothing” to deserve a prestigious EU rights award and vowed to try again to kill her.
The European Parliament awarded the Sakharov human rights prize to the 16-year-old, who has become a global ambassador for the right of all children to go to school since surviving a Taliban murder attempt.
Malala survived being shot in the head by a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) gunman on October 9 last year and is seen as a leading contender for the Nobel Peace prize, to be announced on Friday.
“She has done nothing. The enemies of Islam are awarding her because she has left Islam and has became secular,” TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“She is getting awards because she is working against Islam. Her struggle against Islam is the main reason for getting these awards.”
He repeated the TTP’s threat — made numerous times in recent months — to try again to kill Malala, “even in America or the UK”.
Malala moved to Britain in the wake of the shooting for treatment and to continue her education in safety, and now goes to school in the central city of Birmingham.
Announcing the Sakharov award, the European Parliament’s president Martin Schulz said: “Malala bravely stands for the right of all children to be granted a fair education. This right for girls is far too commonly neglected.”
Feted by world leaders and celebrities for her courage, Malala has addressed the UN, this week published an autobiography, and could become the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Friday.
Malala herself told Pakistani radio this week that she feels she has not yet done enough to earn the Nobel and spoke of her desire to do more practical work to promote education.
Her autobiography “I am Malala”, written with journalist Christina Lamb, has gone on sale in Pakistan and Shahid warned the Taliban would target bookshops stocking it.
“Malala is the enemy of Islam and Taliban and she wrote this book against Islam and Taliban,” he said.
Malala first rose to prominence with a blog for the BBC Urdu service chronicling the difficulties of life under the rule of the Taliban, who controlled the Swat valley from 2007 until they were kicked out by the army in 2009.
Though the military operation ended the Taliban’s rule, pockets of militancy remain and it was in Swat’s main town Mingora that Malala was attacked.
In an interview with the BBC earlier this week, Malala dismissed the threats against her life and repeated her desire to return to Pakistan from Britain.