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Associated Press
Pakistani students hold pictures of Malala Yousufzai, who was shot last Tuesday by the Taliban for speaking out in support of education for women.

Pakistanis rally for young girl ‘beacon’

– Tens of thousands rallied in Pakistan’s largest city Sunday in the biggest show of support yet for a 14-year-old girl who was shot and seriously wounded by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education and criticizing the militant group.

The Oct. 9 attack on Malala Yousufzai as she was returning home from school in Pakistan’s northwest horrified people inside and outside the country. At the same time, it gave hope to some that the government would respond by intensifying its fight against the Taliban and their allies.

But protests against the shooting have been relatively small until now, usually attracting no more than a few hundred people. That response pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of people who held violent protests in Pakistan last month against a film produced in the United States that denigrated Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

The Muttahida Quami Movement organized Sunday’s rally in the southern port city of Karachi. The political party’s chief, Altaf Hussain, criticized both Islamic and other mainstream political parties for failing to organize rallies to protest the attack on Malala.

He called the Taliban gunmen who shot the girl “beasts” and said it was an attack on “the ideology of Pakistan.”

“Malala Yousufzai is a beacon of knowledge. She is the daughter of the nation,” Hussain told the audience by telephone from London, where he is in self-imposed exile because of legal cases pending against him in Pakistan.

Many of the demonstrators carried the young girl’s picture and banners praising her bravery and expressing solidarity.

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