Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - Page 7 News List

New UN peace messenger Malala promotes education


Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai speaks as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres looks on during a ceremony to name her as a UN messenger of peace at UN headquarters in New York City on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, newly designated as a UN messenger of peace, on Monday said that extremists tried to kill her, but did not succeed and in her second life she is keeping up her fight for education, especially for girls — and hoping men and boys will become advocates for gender equality.

The 19-year-old Pakistani activist called herself a proud Muslim, stressed that Islam means peace, and expressed great disappointment that the media refers every day to “Islamic terrorists and Islamic jihadists” fighting in the name of Islam.

“And then people blame the whole [of] Islam,” she said.

“People should look at me and the Muslims who are living in peace, and believe in peace rather than looking at the few terrorists, but Muslim people also need to unite and stand strongly against the extremists, and against the terrorists, [and say] that they are not us. We don’t believe in anything that they’re doing,” Malala said.

Malala answered questions from young people after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres officially bestowed on her the highest honor the UN chief can give a citizen, calling her “a hero” and an inspiration for defending the rights of all people to education and equality, while putting her life at risk.

Guterres, a former assistant professor of physics, spoke with emotion when he told several hundred people at the ceremony: “Can you imagine what it is for a frustrated professor to be facing the most famous student in the world?”

Malala became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace laureate in 2014 when she was recognized for her advocacy of the right of all children to education.

Her campaign had led to a Taliban assassination attempt near her home in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan that left her severely wounded.

She also became the youngest UN messenger of peace, joining a distinguished group, including actors Michael Douglas and Leonardo DiCaprio, primatologist Jane Goodall, and musicians Daniel Barenboim and Yo-Yo Ma (馬友友).

Malala said the most difficult time she faced was living “in the situation of terror in Swat Valley from 2007 to 2009” and deciding to speak out.

“What I realized is if you remain silent, you are still going to be targeted by these people,” she said. “You’re still going to live in a situation of terrorism for your whole life. So it’s better to speak out because you do something from your side. You try your best.”

Malala said she faced a second challenging moment after the Taliban attack, which she does not remember, when she woke up in a hospital in Birmingham, England.

“I had to make a strong decision how I want to lead the rest of my life,” she said.

“This is a new life, a second life, and it is for the purpose of education,” and working especially for girls education, she said.

She expects to attend university in the fall to study philosophy, politics and economics.

“It is important for girls] to realize that their action and their voice is important, and it is needed right now,” she said.

Malala paid tribute to her father, who attended the ceremony, and said unlike many fathers he never stopped her.

“Men should not clip the wings of women, and let them fly and let them go forward,” she said.

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