New York: A group of Pakistani private schools on Monday denounced Nobel peace laureate and girls` education champion Malala Yousafzai as disrespectful to Pakistan and to Islam.
According to a report in the New York Times, the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, which asserts it represents 150,000 students, declared Monday as "I am not Malala" day.
It also petitioned the government to ban the Pakistani 17-year-old`s popular memoir, "I Am Malala," claiming it offends Islam and the "ideology of Pakistan."
An outspoken advocate for girls` education and rights, Yousafzai was shot in the head on her schoolbus in the Swat Valley by the Taliban in 2012 but survived her injuries after treatment in Britain.
The subject of threats in her home country, she currently studies and lives with her family in England. Last month she won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, sharing the award with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian activist for children`s rights.
Widely admired in much of the world for her courage and advocacy, Yousafzai has been criticised heavily by some groups in Pakistan who accuse her of being a puppet of the West, pushing an agenda against the tenets of conservative Islam.
Monday`s denunciation of the teenager represented the most organised attack on her reputation in her homeland to date.
"We are all for education and women`s empowerment," said Mirza Kashif Ali, president of the private schools federation, at a news conference.
"But the West has created this persona who is against the Constitution and Islamic ideology of Pakistan," said Ali, whose network is based in Lahore and represents primarily schools in poorer and middle-class areas.
Charges of being disrespectful to Islam are increasingly dangerous in Pakistan where blasphemy is punishable by death. Last week an angry mob beat to death a young Christian couple over allegations they had desecrated pages from a Koran.