Pakistani police arrested an Islamic cleric on Wednesday, says police chief Waseem Sajjad. A video of Mufti Sardar Ali Haqqani went viral on social media. In the video, the cleric threatens Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai over her recent comments about marriage, officials said Thursday. Haqqani claims the comments Malala made earlier this month to British Vogue magazine are an insult to Islam. In the video, he threatens to target Malala with a suicide attack when she next returns to Pakistan.
Malala Yousafzai, often called by just her first name, has been living in Britain since 2012. She is now 23 years old. When she was just 15, a member of the Pakistani Taliban shot and seriously wounded her.
Malala is the daughter of a teacher. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, is an activist for girls’ education in Pakistan. Malala also spoke out in support of equal education for girls. The Taliban opposes this position. Taliban leaders became enraged by her campaign and the attention the teen was receiving. They allegedly ordered the attempt to assassinate her.
Malala suffered an injury from a bullet wound to her head, but she recovered. Today, she continues to speak out opposing oppression of women and girls under Islamic law.
In the Vogue interview, Malala expressed an opinion that Christians too would likely disagree with. She stated that she was unsure why legal marriage—with documenting paperwork—was necessary. Islam requires such documentation and severely punishes living together outside of marriage—sometimes with death—especially for the woman.
Christians too believe that marriage is to be a permanent, official, and public commitment. But the intention is not to control or oppress one partner in the marriage. It is to validate and protect both, to honor the sanctity of the marriage union, and to mirror God’s perfect covenant commitment to His people—His bride, the church.
Malala’s remarks caused a stir on social media in Pakistan. She angered Islamists (radical Islamics who often turn violent in their responses) and clerics (religious officials) like Haqqani. Malala’s father defended her on Twitter. He said her remarks were taken out of context. (A civilized discussion about the matter might have brought greater understanding than rushing to threaten violence, as Proverbs 16:32 says: “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty.”)
Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for working to protect children from slavery, extremism, and child labor. She briefly visited Pakistan in 2018.
In February of this year, Malala’s 2012 attacker threatened to try again to take her life. He posted on Twitter about his intentions, saying next time, “there would be no mistake.” Twitter permanently suspended the account. But Malala asked the Pakistani military and prime minister in her own tweet to explain why the shooter was free.
The shooter was arrested in 2017. He escaped from a so-called safe house in January 2020. Pakistan’s intelligence agency was responsible for keeping him in custody. No explanation was given for his escape.
(Malala Yousafzai is interviewed in London, England, in 2019. AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)