'I Am Malala' -- a chorus across the world in support of Pakistani teen

Malala Yousufzai

The 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the headsimply because she wants an education has become an international symbol of defiance against the Taliban.

Though the extremist group has been called murderous ideologues for years, Malala Yousufzai's determination and bravery have inspired thousands across the world to stand up. Her attack has prompted protests in her home country over the past several days, and moved regular people and highly influential global leaders alike to get more serious than ever about defeating the Taliban.

On Monday the 14-year-old arrived in Britain for medical treatment while rallies in her name were just ending or being organized.

Tens of thousands gathered in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, on Sunday.

Men, women and their children held signs that said, "Shame on you, Taliban." Others held signs condemning terrorism.

Massive posters and billboards said, "Malala, our prayers are with you."

In the capital of Islamabad, protesters held candles and prayed for the girl's recovery.

Some already knew her. Malala began gaining international attention in 2009 as the Taliban gained a foothold in her home region of Swat, a Taliban-heavy valley in northwest Pakistan not far from the border with Afghanistan. Malala's father operated one of the few schools that defied the Taliban by keeping its doors open to girls.

Malala wrote a blog for the BBC about what it was like to try to get an education in that environment. Her touching diary earned her both national and international praise.

"I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban," she wrote. "I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools."

In the past 24 hours, protesters demanded that the government thoroughly investigate who, on October 9, stopped a van carrying Malala and her classmates as they returned from school in the Swat Valley.

Gunmen jumped inside the van and ordered students to point out Malala. Horrified, they did. The men opened fire, shooting Malala in the head and neck. Two other girls were also wounded.

In recent days, as Malala breathed with the help of a ventilator in Pakistani medical facilities, the Taliban took responsibility for the shooting.

They vowed that if she survives, they'll come after her again, and next time finish her.

A 'turning point'?

The sheer depravity of men trying to shoot to death a teenage girl has raised questions about whether Pakistan's government, its military and its intelligence services are doing everything they really can to defeat Taliban militancy, which has flourished more than ever in regions like the Swat Valley.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the first woman to hold that job, said Sunday that she thinks the shooting marked a "turning point" in the ferocity of how Pakistan goes after Taliban offenders and extremist groups.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Khar said that at least 100 arrests have been made so far.

"Pakistan, at the diplomatic, political and every level, has been asking ... to take this matter seriously, to not let them (the Taliban) have a safe haven," she said.

It appears that international leaders are standing firm with Khar. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote an editorial for CNN saying that the attack on Malala should drive home how crucial it is to go beyond talk and to work in practical ways to get more girls in classrooms in the volatile region.