Malala to Trump: Banning Muslims From the U.S. Is Hateful, Tragic, and Discriminatory

The teenage human rights activist took aim at the Republican front-runner’s controversial proposal.

Malala Yousafzai gives a speech as she unveils her official portrait, by artist Nasser Azam, at the Barbar Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham, England, on Nov. 29. (Photo: Richard Stonehouse/Getty Images)

Dec 16, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Donald Trump’s proposal last week to ban all Muslims from entering the United States has ensured a stream of news headlines, social media outrage, and condemnation from critics all over the world. Even as Trump’s opponents grilled him during Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, the GOP front-runner continued to defend the controversial plan, insisting it wasn’t about religious discrimination but about heightening security.

Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai begs to differ. Speaking at an event in Birmingham, England, on Tuesday, the 18-year-old Nobel laureate said Trump’s rhetoric could have the opposite effect: radicalizing more terrorists.

“That’s really tragic that you hear these comments which are full of hatred, full of this ideology of being discriminative towards others,” Yousafzai said, according to AFP. She cautioned that blaming terrorist attacks on the world’s more than 1.6 billion Muslims—nearly a quarter of the global population—only “leads to creating more anger in people and leads to producing more terrorists.“

Her comments carried a particular heaviness given their delivery during a ceremony commemorating the one-year anniversary of a Taliban attack that killed at least 140 children at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. An outspoken activist since 2009, when she announced that she wanted to become a doctor, Yousafzai has become a target of the terrorist group because of her campaign for girls’ education. When she was 14, a Taliban gunman held up her school bus and lodged a bullet in her head and neck, narrowly missing her brain. Yousafzai survived the shooting, but many of the men responsible for her attack were never convicted.

Calls to restrict Muslim refugees from seeking asylum in the United States have increased since the November terrorist attacks in Paris and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, this month. Similar to Trump, more than half of the country’s governors have said they will not accept Syrian refugees because of national security concerns. But Yousafzai isn’t alone in her belief that banning Muslims from entering the U.S. could have a devastating counter-effect.

At a press conference in Malaysia last month, President Barack Obama warned that Muslim discrimination only fuels terrorism. “We will not give in to fear, or start turning on each other, or treating some people differently because of religion or race or background,“ Obama said. “After all, that’s precisely what terrorists like ISIL want, because, ultimately, that’s the only way that they can win.“