December 10 has been declared Human Rights Day. This is a day for all of us in the West, in particular, to pray for those who live under autocratic, theocratic, despotic regimes who deny their citizens their humanity. There is slavery on the 21st century. While we exclaim over the movie "12 Years a Slave," we ignore those who are enslaved today, in Sudan and North Korea.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper hopped on the Malala Yousafzai bandwagon by signing a petition to nominate the schoolgirl for the Nobel Peace prize. But Harper's singular gesture will never buy respect from the advocates of fairness, equality and human decency. Only policy reversals can deliver that miracle. Only policy reversals can deliver that miracle.
We did it! After tens of thousands of Canadians and even more people from around the world signed my petition on Change.org, we got every single party leader to get behind the campaign to unanimously nominate Malala Yousufzai for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. I had never imagined that not one, but all of our federal parties and leaders would end up supporting the campaign to support a girl halfway around the world.
There are times in human history when a single person becomes a metaphor for philosophy, morality, humanity, poetry, literature, and human stature, all rolled into one. Such persons lead by example, at times sacrificing their own lives for their convictions. We live in the times of Malala Yousafzai.
On October 11, 2012 the world marked the first-ever International Day of the Girl. The celebration was bittersweet, though, given it occurred against the backdrop of worldwide shock and headlines concerning 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a young activist from Pakistan, shot in the head by a Taliban member because of her ongoing work and advocacy to ensure more girls get to go to school.
Last week's horrific assault on Malala Yousafzai, a teenage heroine who stood up to the Taliban in Pakistan, hit us with a powerful déjà vu of Iqbal Masih, the boy from Pakistan who first inspired our awakening to social justice issues. If Malala's story has you seething, don't just shake an angry fist in the air. We may not be in a position to put our lives on the line like Iqbal or Malala, but that doesn't mean we're helpless.
The shooting of the young Pakistani activist shows one thing: Fanatics are cowards who resort to violence to silence their critics. Malala Yousufzai was shot and seriously wounded on Tuesday as she was leaving her school in her hometown. It is sad and shameful to see these thugs committing horrific crimes against humanity in the name of religion. Doing their dirty work in the name of the faith is a great insult to those who follow the faith and to the faith itself.