Almost ten months after she was shot in the head by the Taliban in the reclaimed Swat valley, teenage peace activist Malala Yousafzai took to the stage at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on Friday, to urge for education as the weapon of change in the face of extremism.
“They thought the bullet would silence us. But they failed. Out of that silence came thousands of voices. Terrorists thought they could change our aims and our ambitions. Nothing changed, but this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, courage and fervour was born.”
On October 9, 2012 the Taliban had shot Malala and two of her school friends. The National Youth Peace prize winner was left with a bullet wound on the left side of her forehead.
“One girl among many. I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard,” she said in a determined manner.
Not against anyone
But Malala insisted that her purpose for being at the UN was not hate or to seek revenge.
“I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorists group. I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child.”
“The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same, my dreams are the same,” she said.
Malala’s injuries had left her in hospital for over three months in two countries. Despite that, she said that he has no quest for revenge, not even from the person who shot her. “I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him.”
“I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists especially the Taliban.”
‘Education is the only solution’
Citing the age old phrase that the pen is mightier than the sword, Malala pointed out that the “extremists are afraid of books and pens.”
“The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”
“Education is the only solution. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
Malala got a standing ovation after her speech.
‘Terrorists are misusing Islam for personal motives’
Malala said that Islam was a religion of peace and equality, but some elements were using it for personal gains.
“They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to hell just because of going to school. The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and the Pashtun society for their own personal benefits. Pakistan is peace-loving democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons,” she said in her speech.
“Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. Islam says that it is not only each child’s right to get education, rather it is their duty and responsibility.”
July 12, which also marks Malala’s birthday is being observed as Malala Day.
“Do remember one thing. Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them,” she said.