September 30, 2015

Screening of Malala documentary set for Oct. 15

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A documentary that profiled Malala Yousafzai, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and her opposition to the Taliban’s push to close schools for Pakistani girls, is the focus of an upcoming screening and discussion at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The SIU School of Journalism and the Southern Illinois chapter of the United Nations Association of the U.S.A., will host “Class Dismissed: The Death of Female Education, Malala’s Story,” at 5 p.m., Oct. 15, at the SIU School of Law Hiram H. Lesar Building auditorium.  Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend. There will be refreshments.

Syed Irfan Ashraf, a Pakistani journalist and teaching and graduate research assistant in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, co-produced the 2009 New York Times documentary that featured Malala, a young Pakistani girl and education activist.

When the paper looked for a local contact in Pakistan’s Swat Valley region, they found Ashraf, a local journalist who reported for “Dawn,” a TV news outlet. Ashraf escorted New York Times reporter Adam B. Ellick as they gathered material for print stories and the documentary on Taliban efforts to close schools that educated girls. In 2007, Ashraf introduced Ellick to then 11-year-old Malala’s family, who operated a school for girls. The documentary focuses on the brutal efforts to close schools for girls. The film contains brief scenes that are not appropriate for children and may be disturbing for others.

Ashraf will discuss the documentary and share his concerns of the dangers Malala faced. Ashraf's time with Malala, and her subsequent wounding in a 2012 assassination attempt, caused Ashraf to examine his role as a journalist, the ethics of the situation and the safety of sources. Malala, then 14, became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize when she earned the honor last October.

Ashraf received a fellowship from the U.S. Department of State in 2011 to pursue his doctorate at SIU Carbondale.