Extremists, who in the beginning deemed Malala an icon of bravery, now consider her to be unworthy of all this care and attention. Facebook pages, text messages, and tweets denouncing her as an American agent have gone viral
Fearless fighting characterizes both Joan of Arc and Malala Yousufzai. The other week, Malala opened her eyes for the first time after the Taliban shot her in the head for advocating women’s education and condemning the Taliban. Six centuries prior, a pro-English court ordered Joan of Arc be burned at the stake for her own defiance against an oppressive regime.
Malala grew up in Mingora, a town entirely under Taliban control. Joan of Arc grew up in eastern France surrounded by pro-English Burgundian land.
Malala’s father mentored his 11-year-old daughter to pick up the pen and fight for her rights against the Taliban. Joan of Arc’s mentoring came from St. Michael and St. Catherine, who inspired the 12-year-old “to cut her hair, dress in man's uniform and to pick up the arms,” for her country.
While writing for the BBC Urdu, Malala disguised herself under the pen name of Gul Makai. Joan of Arc famously disguised herself in men’s attire and convinced the captain of the dauphin's force to give her the command of troops.
Joan of Arc won miraculous victories. In one instance her troops captured the English Commander and overpowered a much stronger army despite the many obstacles she faced. In the face of numerous school closings, Malala showed similar courage and fearlessly criticized the Taliban in the face of mortal danger, writing, “Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong …”
Even after Malala’s true identity was revealed in December 2009, she continued relentlessly advocating for women’s education. In the coming years, Malala appeared as a girls’ rights activist and an advocate of peace, even winning the National Peace Prize. The New York Times featured her in two documentaries. Earlier this year she initiated to organize the Malala Education Foundation to help poor girls go to school.
In 1430, the Burgandians captured Joan of Arc while defending Compiegne near Paris—revealing her true identity. But she did not relent. The English tried and convicted her for witchcraft and heresy. The main accusation on her was her male appearance, which was considered a crime against God. In 1431, she was convicted and on May 30th, was burnt at stake at the age of 19.
On October 9th, the Taliban shot Malala in the head for her alleged crime of education advocacy. At present, she is being treated in a hospital in Birmingham. Her to-be-killers have expressed their desire to kill her if she survives.
Despite, Joan’s selfless services for the France, King Charles VII did not come to her rescue. Likewise, extremist elements of Pakistani society, who in the beginning deemed Malala an icon of bravery, now consider her to be unworthy of all this care and attention. Facebook pages, text messages, and tweets denouncing her as an American agent have gone viral.
Despite the bigoted opposition, intelligent people in Pakistan are already calling for Malala to be recognized as the "Daughter of Pakistan.” It took some 25 years after Joan of Arc’s death, for her to be declared innocent. Many years later she received the title of Patron Saint and inspired countless. We hope Malala lives for many years more to experience the fruit of her labor first hand. Her fearless fighting has already inspired billions.