Justin Bieber FaceTimed with Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl shot back in 2012 by a Taliban gunman for defying their ban on girls receiving an education in Pakistan. The Canadian star has pledged to support the education advocate’s organization — The Malala Fund.
Well, this a welcome change of pace. Justin Bieber FaceTimed with Malala Yousafzai last night.
Yousafzai’s name became known on the world stage after the then 15-year-old Pakistani girl was shot by a Taliban gunman on October 9, 2012 as she rode a bus home from school.
Defying the Taliban’s edict forbidding girls from receiving an education, and daring to speak out in protest.
Bieber revealed the surprise virtual meet on his social media pages shortly after the pair’s call.
Taking to Instagram late Wednesday to share a screenshot of his conversation with Malala, the singer’s caption read:
“Just got to FaceTime with Malala Yousafzai. She has such an incredible story.”
Justin added: “I can’t wait to meet her in person and talk about how I can support her and the @malalafund. #love”
The “Baby” superstar also tweeted part of that message to his over 53 million followers.
Just got to FaceTime with Malala Yousafzai. She has such an incredible story. I can't wait to meet her… http://t.co/i295THc8pQ
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) August 7, 2014
Although it was previously reported that Malala liked Justin Bieber and could even be thought of as a Belieber, there’s no denying that the idea of the pop/R&B singer FaceTiming with the 17-year-old girl who went to become a women’s rights activist, girls’ education and children’s rights advocate doesn’t immediately connect.
So how did it come about?
Turns out, John Shahidi, who is one of Bieber’s business associates, knows the Yousafzai family and dined with them Wednesday night.
That same night, Shahidi tweeted: “Having dinner with @shervin, Malala Yousafzai and her family and decided to surprise her with a guest via FaceTime ).”
Having dinner with @shervin, Malala Yousafzai and her family and decided to surprise her with a guest via FaceTime :) pic.twitter.com/bPdHuGvmSF
— John Shahidi (@john) August 7, 2014
Bieber is a key investor with Shahidi in “Shots of me,” a teen-focused social network used to post selfies. It was co-founded by CEO Shahidi, who also co-founded RockLive, a venture-funded mobile gaming company which became Shots Mobile, Inc. in 2013, releasing Shots last November.
From Justin’s tweet, it appears he talked with Malala about meeting up to discuss supporting her activism through The Malala Fund — her awareness and fundraising charity which works towards girls around the world having access to education.
While Bieber’s exploits and trials are very different to those which Malala faced (and she still does), and appears to root in a “too-much-too-soon” malaise due to early fortune and fame, it’s possible he might draw inspiration from her story to survive the now widespread, negative public perception of him.
It’s worth noting, that in addition to Bieber’s own role in his missteps, that “perception” has been accelerated by tabloids and a wider entertainment media that routinely takes liberties with facts, narrative and context.
Malala’s story, which can be read in more depth under the highlight, is one of perseverance, courage and her fight for the right to education for females. These came under pressure as Taliban extremists’ policies began to take hold in parts of Pakistan from late 1998, and which continues.
Daughter of Ziauddin Yousafzai, himself an education activist, poet and owner of a chain of public schools, in 2008 he suggested Malala accept an offer to anonymously blog about the Taliban’s growing influence on the BBC’s Urdu website — using the pseudonym “Gul Makai” after the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools in Swat Valley where they lived.
In September 2008, Malala gave a speech titled: “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” On January 3, 2009, at the age 11 her first blog was published, with the last on March 12, 2009. Her identity was revealed through articles in December that year.
Her blog covered her personal perspective after the Taliban set an edict that no girls could attend school after January 15, 2009, after which she later appeared in two documentaries with American film-maker Adam B Ellick. During the terror, girls’ schools were blown up and Malala’s family was physically displaced from Swat Valley along with others when they fled the Taliban insurgency.
Three years after the Taliban issued a death threat against father for criticizing militants at a press conference, they issued the same against Malala, who had continued to advocate in the press, radio and television about her right and the right of all women to an education.
On October 9, 2012, on a bus ride home from school, Taliban gunman boarded looking for Malala.
Once identified, the gunman fired, hitting Malala in the left side of her head and leaving her in a critical condition. After treatment in Pakistan, she was flown to Birmingham, England.
Post-multiple surgeries, she recovered and went on to give a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday.
She has since been awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize, the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, honorary Canadian citizenship and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. In February 2014, Yousafzai was nominated for the World Children’s prize in Sweden and was granted an honorary degree by the University of King’s College in Halifax in May 15, 2014. Malala’s advocacy continues, as does her targeting by the Taliban.
What an interesting, and possibly personally helpful, meeting the 20-year-old has ahead of him.
For readers interested in joining Malala to “help girls everywhere reach their full potential,” visit this website.
Read Malala’s autobiography: “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”