ISLAMABAD – While Malala Yousafzai was receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, in return the people celebrated “I am not Malala“ day in her homeland.

The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF), a group that claims to represent 150,000 schools across Pakistan, proclaimed Monday “I am Not Malala” day and called for the banning of the teenage advocate’s memoir because it offends Islam.

The group said Pakistani education activist Malala was a member of ‘Salman Rushdie’s Ideological Club’ because her memoir supports the freedom of expression of British novelist Rushdie, who has been accused of disrespecting Islam in his book The Satanic Verses, winner of the Whitbread Awards in 1988. After the awards were given to him, an Iranian group called fatwa called for his murder for 20 years on. The federation said Malala’s book was too sympathetic to Rushdie.

In her book, the then-16-year-old had said that her father was a staunch believer in freedom of expression, stating the protests in Pakistan against Rushdie and his “anti-Islamic” book:

“My father also saw the book as offensive to Islam but believes strongly in freedom of speech… Islam is not weak to such intent that it cannot tolerated a book written against it!”

“She has criticized Pakistan’s ideology, its religion, and its constitution,” Federation President Mirza Kashif Ali said. He added that participating schools held seminars “about what it really means to be Pakistani,” and said that they would do so every November 10 until Yousafzai “apologizes and disowns whatever anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam rubbish she wrote.”

Ali also criticised Yousafzai for holding President Obama and not the Prophet Muhammad “as her ideal. Other examples of Malala’s “Westernization,” Ali said, were her use of the word “God” instead of “Allah,” and mentioning Muhammad’s name without the customary addition of “Peace Be Upon Him.”

In spite of her worldwide impact for her education campaigning, some in Pakistan view Malala as an ‘agent of the West’ and say she does not support Islamic values.

Malala came to prominence after being shot by The Taliban when she was just 15 in 2012, when her calls for equal education rights angered militants in Pakistan.

Vandana Singh, Correspondent (Asia: South)

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