World Malala Day: Extremists are afraid of books and pens, says Malala

Published: July 13, 2013

Malala Yousafzai makes an address at the UN headquarters in New York. PHOTO: REUTERS

SWAT / UNITED NATIONS: Nine months after a Taliban gunman put a bullet in her head in the belief that he was ending the teenager’s crusade for girls’ education in Swat district, Malala Yousafzai made a reappearance at a platform bigger than she could have ever imagined. Since then, both Malala and her campaign have helped people stand up to the obscurantist ideology of the Taliban.

Malala Yousafzai, who turned 16 on Friday, marked her birthday with an emotional speech at the United Nations in which she said education could change the world.

“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution,” a confident Malala said to cheers from the podium.

Wearing a pink head scarf, Malala told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and nearly 1,000 students from around the world attending a Youth Assembly at UN headquarters in New York that education was the only way to improve lives.

Malala was targeted by the Taliban for her campaign against their efforts to deny women education. “They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed and out of that silence came thousands of voices,” she said.

“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born,” Malala said.

“The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women,” Malala said. “When we were in Swat … we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.”

She wore a white shawl draped around her shoulders that had belonged to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated during a 2007 election rally weeks after she returned to Pakistan from years in self-imposed exile.

“I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child,” she said.

“I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists,” she said. “I do not even hate the Talib [singular of Taliban] who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him.”

Malala presented Ban with a petition signed by some 4 million people in support of 57 million children around the world who are not able to go to school. It demanded that world leaders fund new teachers, schools and books and end child labour, marriage and trafficking.

Ban said that the United Nations was committed to a target of getting all children in school by the end of 2015.

“No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn. Together, we can change this picture,” he said. “Together, let us follow the lead of this brave young girl, Malala.”

UN Special Envoy for Global Education, former British prime minister Gordon Brown, said Friday’s event was not just a celebration of Malala’s birthday and of her recovery, but of her vision.

He invoked “her dream that nothing, no political indifference, no government inaction, no intimidation, no threats, no assassin’s bullets should ever deny the right of every single child … to be able to go to school.”

Brown described Malala’s recovery from the attack as a miracle. The teenager was treated in Pakistan before the United Arab Emirates provided an air ambulance to fly her to Britain, where doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate.

Unable to safely return to Pakistan, Malala enrolled in a school in Birmingham, England in March.

In Malala’s hometown of Swat, the secular Awami National Party and civil society members organized a walk to mark her 16th birthday, which has been declared World Malala Day.

“Today, we want to send across a message to the whole world that the Pakhtun are a peace-loving nation. Malala fought for girls’ education. The people of Swat feel honoured that Malala Day is observed globally,” said ANP District President Sher Shah Khan in his address to the participants.

Local lawmaker Syed Jaffar Shah said Malala was inspired by Bacha Khan, the grandfather of ANP chief Asfandyar Wali, and his philosophy of non-violence. “Malala alone strove to spread awareness about women’s rights at a time when such things were considered a taboo,” Shah added.

You can view the slideshow pictures of Malala here

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2013.

Reader Comments (43)

  • Jul 13, 2013 - 1:25AM

    What a beautiful and powerful speech. Made my eyes moist. This is a very special person to survive a gunshot and to be so courageous.

    Shame on those who want to negotiate with those beasts who would harm innocent children.

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  • California reader
    Jul 13, 2013 - 1:38AM

    What a great way to see a young Pakistani girl speak about her cause! May there be more of her all across South Asia and the world. Today is a proud day for Pakistan.

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  • TightPatloon
    Jul 13, 2013 - 2:04AM

    I think world Malala day is stretching it a bit, but hopefully something positive will come out of it

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  • Khalq e Khuda
    Jul 13, 2013 - 2:08AM

    It was such a proud moment to see Malala’s effort being recognised alongwith the plight of millions of Pakistani school girls who can no longer go to school on the pretext of religion.

    Sadly, however, most educated Pakistanis continue to side with the forces that shot her and continue to conjure up conspiracy theories defending Taliban when Taliban itself proudly acknowledges shooting her.

    My advice to Malala is that this country is a lost cause and she would do well to stay away from it. The likes Quaid, Benazir and Bacha Khan are no longer welcome here. It is Mullah Omer and Osama Bin Laden who are the heroes of this land.

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  • Olukanni PIUS
    Jul 13, 2013 - 2:17AM

    I really APPRICIATE your will and courage Malala,you are indeed a blessing to the world and nothing can stop who For has ordained…..I love you and the whole world is behind you and praying with and for you.

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  • Singh
    Jul 13, 2013 - 2:27AM

    I am proud at little daughter of Pakistan. Voice of every child.

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  • Jul 13, 2013 - 3:04AM

    One the best world class role models for Pakistan’s 25 million illiterate children, both boys and girls, spending miserable life aimlessly because the government ignores them or doesn’t want to see them intentionally.
    Many countries, donors allocate & give huge amounts of funds for education of boys and girls of the poorest in countries like Pakistan. “Unfortunately most of the funds do very little to alleviate illiteracy as major part of these education funds are used up as administrative costs within the donor countries and pocketed by the corrupt of the receiving countries, diverted for pet projects or used for programs to get voters that keep them in power.

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  • Jul 13, 2013 - 3:04AM

    If all the allocated funds given for poverty and illiteracy alleviation by the international community reached the intended projects in accountable and results producing ways then we would have already no boy or girl left behind.
    Most illiterate children of the world may only need “Basic Education (K-5) which is only a fraction of the cost of middle or higher education. Malala said it right “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world” and idd not say you needed expensive table, chairs, painted walls, fans or air conditioners. You just need a floor with a hand made mat to sit on. For 25 million illiterate children of Pakistan this is a luxury they don’t get.

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  • Arxhad
    Jul 13, 2013 - 4:18AM

    Malala is being extremely exploited by the west and anti pak/islam powers. She is unintentionally become a handy tool for them to be used and defame Pakistan. My all sympathies are with Malala, but the way she is proceeding is not the right way. She is writing her autobiography and is being assisted by one of the most anti Islam/Pakistan west lady journalist. At least her elders need to understand the way she is being exploited.

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  • ModFied
    Jul 13, 2013 - 4:43AM

    Lessor for terrorists. Malala gets a day to her name whereas terrorists don’t get even a night to sleep peacefully. By the not even Obama or Bush got a day named after their name. Malala ! even whole India is proud of you. You are as much our daughter as of Pakistan.

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  • SK
    Jul 13, 2013 - 4:56AM

    I do believe Malala incident should now be depoliticized. The deplorable incident has been hijacked and blown out of proportion. The incident when occurred was universally condemned..
    But a cult should not be made out of this unfortunate incident. The young girl should now be spared media attention and be allowed to live her own normal life as she had been living. Malala incident is now being presented as a marketable product in international media to criticize forms of social justice which do not fall in line with western perceptions.

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  • Khurram The Muhajir
    Jul 13, 2013 - 5:15AM

    Waiting for the barrage of comments about how all this is a conspiracy and this 14 year old girl is a “CIA Agent”.

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  • sab sach heh
    Jul 13, 2013 - 5:47AM

    The west will milk this till the end of the world and all thanks to ulama in pakistan for not condemning this atrocity and if there own daughters where attacked like this would the response be the same..

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  • Deepwater
    Jul 13, 2013 - 5:59AM

    Her speech was much more than just about a right to education. It was also about women’s right and gender equality as well. I wonder how many Pakistanis will support her views if they listened to the speech in its entirety.

    I also wonder if the Kaptaan will find time to meet with her in the UK. Or will he take the safe way out in order to not displease the extremists?

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  • gp65
    Jul 13, 2013 - 6:40AM

    ETBLOGS1987

    Young , courageous, spunky and wise. Go Malala! You rock.

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  • Bilal
    Jul 13, 2013 - 7:04AM

    @Arxhad:
    May be you are brainwashed by facebook anti malala campign – Can you revisit the the whole Malala episode thinking if she was your sister or daughter. I am really proud of her. There is no anti Islam forces out there, they are right here in our back yard. Think

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  • BP
    Jul 13, 2013 - 7:25AM

    She said very true. Pakistan’s must need more education for childrens.

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  • Jibran
    Jul 13, 2013 - 7:30AM

    We have to make a choice… Do we want our daughters and sons to be like Malala and Dr. Ali Haider, or like Afia Siddiqui and Mumtaz Qadri? For me the choice is clear.

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  • Polpot
    Jul 13, 2013 - 8:16AM

    So who all have been rounded up for attacking Malala?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Sorry commentary on Law n Order in Pakistan.

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  • Polpot
    Jul 13, 2013 - 8:18AM

    President Zaradri flew to Paris ( where else?:) ) when the French Govt Honored Malala
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Surprised that he was not at UN yesterday. Did PM turn down his request?

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  • suhaib
    Jul 13, 2013 - 10:10AM

    * slap on taliban’s face* love you malala, love Swat

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  • Ashwin
    Jul 13, 2013 - 10:17AM

    This girl is inspiration for all of humanity not just pakistan. May god bless her.

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  • Mekaal Shahriyar
    Jul 13, 2013 - 10:24AM

    Instead of seeing our girls and women winning Nobel Prizes and other successes we are being proud of a girl reportedly assaulted by taliban. There’s daily news of girls and women being soaked in acid, butchered, burned alive, forcibly married but since the perpetrators of these crimes are not USA and West’s opponenets they never get the attention of the media

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  • choclet
    Jul 13, 2013 - 10:32AM

    What a memorable birthday!
    All those who look down upon a girl child, and yearn for a boy look what a daughter is capable of doing against all odds and at such a young age!
    and if you have an iota of faith and talk about sunnat then remember Hazrat Fatima.

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  • ab
    Jul 13, 2013 - 11:15AM

    @Khurram The Muhajir

    for the starters, seeing the pattern in which they are nurturing her the west sees her as there’s Pakistani PM one day.

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  • Scar
    Jul 13, 2013 - 12:18PM

    4 months older than me and I’m gonna start my college. haha
    but when she was alright I was in 9 grade and I saw her video in which she was holding a book of 8 grade..
    I am more intelligent :D

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  • Scar
    Jul 13, 2013 - 12:20PM

    The luckiest girl in the world!!!

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  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Jul 13, 2013 - 12:21PM

    Malala is only an exaggerated issue raised by international media and PPP’s government on the commandments of US because Malala was raising her voice only against Taliban and Taliban’s terrorism and barbarism whereas visit Pakistani tribal areas and observe that how many girls like Malala are struggling for the same causes for which Malala raised her voice but unfortunately government in never paying its any attentions on the voices of that girls but that girls are still struggling for education doesn’t matter their schools are blown up by the wild beasts terrorists by the bombs…………

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  • Nathan
    Jul 13, 2013 - 1:02PM

    @ ET

    Highly selective reporting. This is What Malala said. as reported by internatioanl newspapers and channels.

    “I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hands and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him.” .”This is the philosophy of non-violence that I have learnt from Gandhiji, Badshah Khan and Mother Teresa,”

    The second sentence has been edited out by you. Are Gandhiji, Badshah Khan and Mother Tersesa “persona non grata” in Pakistan?

    Nathan

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  • Asfandyar Khattak
    Jul 13, 2013 - 2:23PM

    It doesn’t require a genius mind to appreciate the importance of Malala’s sacrifice, the rightful and well deserved global applause and appreciation she has received, her changed role as global leader in the campaign for child education, and the benefits of her struggle to be reaped by the generations to come, not only in Pakistan, but in the whole world. But, alas, a few mediocre minds here in Pakistan still doubt the credibility and importance of her struggle for the right of millions of children to education. Some are saying her issue was blown out of proportion, others blame her for being part of some conspiracy. For God sake, O’ mediocre minds, come out of your shelves and give her credit for raising some very crucial issues on world platform – the issue of terrorism, education, and backwardness. And still, if you can’t do that, please remain shut and read the international newspapers today.

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  • csmann
    Jul 13, 2013 - 3:00PM

    @Aschraful Makhlooq:
    that is what she said-she represents all those women that you mention,and more. That is what Icons are.And none better than this young lady.

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  • Jul 13, 2013 - 8:21PM

    Millions wept when Malala was shot, but no tears when Talib are killed. Same fate for Lahore rose petals.

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  • dsc9567
    Jul 13, 2013 - 8:56PM

    Malala, the gladiator!

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  • BP
    Jul 13, 2013 - 11:14PM

    Now its clear to all world that how children’s are living in Pakistan. what a shame.

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  • thor
    Jul 14, 2013 - 12:27AM

    @Scar:
    But she is in UN giving speech…so she is intelligent.

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  • Jul 14, 2013 - 3:18AM

    Courageous, wise, determined. May Allah bless you Malala for showing Pakistan – in fact the world its future. May we come together worldwide to defeat the extremists who insult and attack women

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  • Adil Uddin
    Jul 14, 2013 - 4:02AM

    I am not supporting Talibans, neither am I accusing Malala Yousafzai but hope the following blast from the past raise some questions

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nayirah_(testimony)

    I don’t have to educate people about the genocide of Iraqis for past 2 decades. Hope they understand something. Let’s see if people in Russia, Iraq, Syria or Latin American have to say anything about Malala.

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  • csmann
    Jul 14, 2013 - 11:24AM

    @Adil Uddin:
    Even if the article is true, it still doesn’t change the fact that Iraq occupied Kuwait,and did not retreat when asked by international community.

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  • Tamur
    Jul 14, 2013 - 1:19PM

    Arxhad: seems like you need some education in Islam and how it is prescribed in Islam to get education even if one has to go to China.

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  • Scar
    Jul 14, 2013 - 1:32PM

    @thor:
    I’m also a very good debater.

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  • thor
    Jul 14, 2013 - 6:18PM

    @Scar:
    That is wonderful..wait for your turn to make a difference to the society,to make some sacrifices, to do some common good.You do not need comparison of intelligence.
    Not everyone gets their due recognition for the job they do.What is important is what they stand for.

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  • Asfandyar Khattak
    Jul 14, 2013 - 11:04PM

    @Scar: Malala’s words are followed by action. Unlike most Pakistanis, she is not the hero of social media, but took a bullet on the front.

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  • Adil Uddin
    Jul 15, 2013 - 1:16AM

    @csmann:

    And Saddam Hussain was a friend of White House that time who convinced him to attack Kuwait, and Saddam did so only to get backstabbed.

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