A new British-based Islamist group plans to meet in Islamabad to issue a religious decree against a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, accusing her of supporting “occupying” United States forces.
The move against Malala Yousafzai, 15, is likely to provoke outrage. In the days following her shooting in October, she became an international symbol of defiance against the Taliban, and world leaders pledged to support her campaign for girls' education.
“There will be a fatwa issued regarding Malala Yousafzai taking into account the full story of her injury including her public statements in support of the occupying US army in the region, and mocking of key symbols of Islam such as hijab and jihad,” said Abu Baraa, a senior member of Shariah4Pakistan.
The group, whose website features a blog below a photograph of Yousafzai in a hospital bed titled “Don't Believe The Crocodile Tears for Malala Yousufzai,” is associated with some of Britain’s most hardline Islamists.
Anjem Choudary, a prominent radical imam in Britain, said the fatwa could be issued on November 30 at Lal Masjid, one of Pakistan's most notorious mosques, where an army raid in 2007 crushed a Taliban-style movement controlling the compound.
The mosque’s deputy head, Maulana Amir Siddique, denied the group would hold such a conference but organizers insisted they did not need permission to gather in a public place of worship.
Malala is recovering in a British hospital.
Neither Mr Baraa nor Mr Choudary would say what punishment Malala could face if the group found her guilty of violating Islam.
“Nobody is saying we are going to get out our swords and go and look for Malala ... The point is a wider issue: it is about the American and Pakistani involvement in maintaining the British and American interests ... “ Mr Choudary said.
“Malala is one of the issues we are going to be addressing because she is being used as a propaganda tool by the enemies of Muslims to say: ‘Look, Muslims don't believe in education’ which is absurd.”
Tens of thousands of Britons have called on the government to nominate Malala for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work promoting girls’ education.
Her shooting was the culmination of years of campaigning that had pitted the young girl against one of Pakistan's most ruthless Taliban commanders, Maulana Fazlullah.