Malala Yousafzai has expressed deep concerns for women and children in Afghanistan since the Taliban entered the country’s capital on Aug. 15. Yet a post on social media falsely accused Yousafzai, a children’s rights advocate, of being “silent” about the Taliban takeover and the impact on Afghan girls and women.
On her way home from an exam in 2012, Malala Yousafzai — then 15 and already an activist for girls to obtain an education in her native Pakistan — was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman after the militant group said girls could no longer attend school.
Yousafzai survived and continued her work by creating the Malala Fund, which advocates for girls’ education around the world, leading to her becoming the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
When the Taliban in Afghanistan took over that nation in a matter of weeks this summer and entered the country’s capital on Aug. 15, Yousafzai took to Twitter that day to express her concerns.
“We watch in complete shock as Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates. Global, regional and local powers must call for an immediate ceasefire, provide urgent humanitarian aid and protect refugees and civilians,” Yousafzai wrote.
Despite her almost immediate response, a post on social media falsely claimed that Yousafzai has been silent about the Taliban taking over the Afghanistan government and the effects their presence will have on women and girls.
The original tweet — which has since been deleted — read, “Malala, the girl who received a Nobel peace prize for standing against the Taliban, is the same girl who is silent about the cries of women and children suffering at the hands of the Taliban. Performative activism will always get exposed.”
In defense of Yousafzai, a Twitter account, @insta.single, responded, “She was literally shot in the face.” But the post from @insta.single, shared widely on Instagram as well, included a screenshot of the original tweet — amplifying the false claim.
In the column, she wrote: “The Taliban — who until losing power 20 years ago barred nearly all girls and women from attending school and doled out harsh punishment to those who defied them — are back in control. Like many women, I fear for my Afghan sisters.”
While calling on countries to open their borders to Afghan refugees, Yousafzai said she has sent a letter to the leader of her home country, Prime Minister Imran Khan, asking him to welcome refugees to Pakistan and “also ensure that refugee children and girls have access to education and have access to safety and protection.”
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