Malala’s 2012 shooting came at time of high social hostilities in Pakistan

Source: Pew Research Center

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Five years ago today, Taliban gunmen tried to kill Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan in response to her advocacy of education for girls. The Taliban justified the attack by claiming the then-15-year-old’s education efforts were pro-Western and anti-Islamic.

The shooting came at a time when social hostilities involving religion were at a high point, both globally and in Pakistan. More recently, these hostilities in Pakistan have ebbed somewhat, though the country still faces many challenges in this area.

The type of attack carried out against Malala – along with other social hostilities involving religion – is captured in Pew Research Center’s annual coding of global religious restrictions. The Social Hostilities Index (SHI) is a 10-point index that measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups in society, with a score of 10 indicating the highest level of hostilities.

In 2012, the year Malala was shot, social hostilities involving religion hit a six-year high worldwide as well as in Pakistan, which scored a 9.8 that year. During this time, Pakistanis accused of blasphemy were killed, according to the U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom, and discrimination against the country’s religious minority groups, such as Shiite Muslims and Christians, remained prevalent.

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