(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
Malala Yousafzai is an inspiring young activist, and it’s an honour for Canadians that she is now a fellow citizen.
As a young teenager in Pakistan, Yousafzai — known internationally as Malala — stood up to the deeply misogynistic forces in her society and began to advocate for the rights of girls and women to be educated.
She nearly paid the ultimate price for it.
A Taliban gunman shot Malala in the face at point blank range — sending a message to all girls that those who fail to submit to their male overlords in the land of sharia would be punished.
Malala miraculously survived the attempted assassination and has become a global voice for the voiceless, standing up for girls who are marginalized and repressed in Islamist societies.
She is a true feminist.
The 19-year-old Nobel laureate addressed Parliament Wednesday, and became only the sixth person in our history to receive honorary Canadian citizenship.
This was one of those rare moments in Ottawa where politicians put their differences aside and acknowledged there are far greater challenges in the world than the daily quarrels in the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embraced the moment (and the spotlight, as usual), but the groundwork for this important day was put into motion years ago — under the leadership of the Stephen Harper Conservatives.
Back in 2013, just months after the grisly news of the attempt on Malala’s life, former Conservative status of women minister, now interim party leader, Rona Ambrose, invited Malala to come to Canada.
Malala was scheduled to attend the International Day of the Girl event — another Ambrose initiative now celebrated worldwide — and attend a ceremony granting her honorary citizenship.
Malala arrived in Toronto on Oct. 22, 2014, but things didn’t go as planned.
Instead, that fateful day, an ISIS-inspired gunman shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and stormed Parliament Hill, rifle in hand.
The terrorist was killed before he could do any more damage, but the country was in shock.
Ottawa was under lock-down and the star-studded event that afternoon was cancelled.
“The irony didn’t escape me,” said Ambrose, of the fact Malala survived an attack by Islamist militants in Pakistan, only to be sidelined by another Islamist madman here in Canada.
And there’s another irony in Canada’s welcoming of Malala this week.
Malala bravely fights against the forces of evil within her religion with moral clarity, while the man welcoming her to Canada, Trudeau, routinely fails to even recognize there’s a problem.
Malala is one of the world’s most outspoken Muslim women.
She frequently condemns terrorists and the ideology that drives them — the totalitarian interpretation of Islam.
She opposes radical Islamists when they kill innocent people and she opposes them when they seek to impose elements of sharia law.
Malala stood up to the ban on education for women and she stands against the tradition that forces women to wear an Islamic face covering.
Malala refuses to wear the niqab, and calls the practice a “Taliban-created culture”.
Trudeau, by contrast, condemns criticism of Islam, initially refused to call female genital mutilation “barbaric” before belatedly apologizing and welcomed the niqab into Canadian citizenship ceremonies.
Let’s hope our new fellow citizen, Malala Yousafzai, has a...(READ MORE)