A lesson in cause and effect

In October 2012, 15-year old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot, along with two other girls by a Taliban gunman in the Swat district in the north west of the country.

Three years earlier she had written a blog under an assumed name for BBC Urdu about how girls were being prevented from going to school and by the time of the shooting had become a public advocate for female education.

That almost came to a premature end when a man walked onto the school bus and asked: “Who is Malala?” before shooting her in the side of the head.

She woke up 10 days later in a hospital in Birmingham to find people across the world had elevated her to the status of international icon.

After months of rehabilitation she could have chosen to live a reasonably anonymous life with her loving parents away from the oppression of her home, but instead she committed to fight until every girl across the world has the right to receive 12 years of free education. She has also spoken out about forced marriage and other issues related to gender inequality

At the end of 2014 she became the youngest Nobel laureate, being awarded the prestigious Peace Prize and joining a list that includes, Nelson Mandela, Barak Obama, Kofi Annan and the Dalai Lama.

She has gone on to study at Oxford University and is considered by Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to be the country’s most prominent citizen.

In August 2018, 15-year old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg began standing outside the parliament building to protest at her government’s inactivity over climate change.

In no time at all schoolkids across the world were knocking Fridays off (they call it a strike – I call it playing truant) to protest for action to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint.

Greta has become the face of the entire climate change movement. She has addressed world leaders and her face is seen on TV screens and magazine covers across the world.

How?

How does one kid’s protest in Sweden go worldwide?

Greta Thunberg is a convenient figurehead for the likes of Extinction Rebellion. They, and similar groups in just about every country on the globe have jumped on the Greta bandwagon.

Why?

Well, look at the gospel according to Greta – delivered in her idiosyncratic style – then imagine the same words coming from Mr Broccoli.

Who are people going to be guilted into giving a platform to – the autistic teenager without a filter or the twat dressed up as a cabbage?

Malala Yousafzai almost gave her life fighting for the right of girls to go to school.

Greta Thunberg doesn’t appear to go to school much anymore.

I’m not blaming her. I believe she is being exploited by activists for whom this girl’s profile is the gift that keeps on giving.

Her conviction is used as justification for them stopping honest working people from getting to their jobs and for practising anarchy under the guise of peaceful protest.

I have nothing against Greta Thunberg, but I know which young lady I consider to be the real hero.

* When a Prime Minister pulls off what had seemed impossible even a week ago and Parliament still conspires to thwart it one has to wonder how much of this is actually about Brexit at all and whether it’s just about power.

The Government is not running the country – it has no majority to do so – yet opposition parties will not agree to an immediate general election because they know only too well that the best they can hope for is another hung Parliament (now there’s a thought…).

What is far more likely is that there will be a major clear-out and the balance of British politics will change in a way not seen for centuries.

Edward Case

Columnist