Teen shot by Taliban marks birthday at U.N.
UNITED NATIONS — Malala Yousafzai celebrated her 16th birthday on the world stage at the United Nations, defiantly telling Taliban extremists who tried to end her campaign for girls education in Pakistan with a bullet that the attack gave her new courage and demanding that world leaders provide free education to all children.
Malala was invited on Friday to give her first public speech since she was shot in the head on her way back from school in Pakistan's Swat Valley last October. She addressed nearly 1,000 young leaders from more than 100 countries at the U.N.'s first Youth Assembly — and she had a message for them, too.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons,” Malala urged. “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
The U.N. had declared July 12 — her 16th birthday — “Malala Day.” But she insisted it was “the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.”
The Taliban, which has long opposed educating girls in Pakistan as well as neighboring Afghanistan, said it targeted Malala because she was campaigning for girls to go to school and promoted “Western thinking.”
In what some observers saw as another sign of defiance, Malala said the white shawl she was wearing belonged to Pakistan's first female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007 when she returned to run in elections.
Malala recalled the Oct. 9 day when she was shot on the left side of her forehead, and her friends were shot as well. She insisted she was just one of thousands of victims of the Taliban.
“They thought that the bullets would silence us,” she said. “But they failed. And then out of that silence came thousands of voices. 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.”
Malala began her speech with a traditional Muslim prayer and later accused terrorists of “misusing the name of Islam and Pashtun society for their own personal benefits.”
She wore a traditional pink, patterned South Asian dress and pants called a shalwar kameez and a matching head scarf.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Abbas appeals for end to chaos with Israel
- EU offers to ease Turkey’s refugee burden
- Mexico’s army chief denies troops involved in massacre
- Canadian, Japanese physicists win Nobel for neutrino work
- Pope urges bishops to reaffirm church’s stance on marriage as synod opens
- Syria’s Assad praises Russian airstrikes
- NSA leaker Snowden wants to come home to U.S.
- 3 share Nobel medicine prize for new tools to kill parasites
- Europeans shut borders, block bridges to halt migrant surge
- Federal budget confrontation puts funding for climate aid in limbo
- Fighting rages in Afghan city; U.S. strategy put to test