Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, has won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Kailash Satyarthi of India
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The prize was awarded jointly to Malala and Kailash Satyarthi from India, “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.
“The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim – an Indian and a Pakistani – to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” the judges said in a statement.
The awarding of the prize to the two campaigners was celebrated widely on social media.
Last year the award was given to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for its mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stocks.
Mr Satyarthi, 60, has maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests, “focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” the Nobel committee said.
Malala, now aged 17, was living in Pakistan’s Swat Valley when she was shot in the head by militants in October 2012 as punishment for her high profile campaign to encourage girls to go to school.
But a year later she was living in Britain, having staged a remarkable recovery thanks to surgeons in Birmingham, and has become an international role model for young people.
Malala’s father now works for the High Commission in Birmingham, as an education councillor.
Within Pakistan, however, not all people support the teenager.
Some have cast doubt on her story, accusing her of making it up – despite photos of her head wound – or criticising her for her campaigning zeal. But Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK told The Telegraph last year that her detractors were “living in the Dark Ages.”
“Where Malala comes from, is a complicated place. It’s not backwards – that is the wrong word, as it’s very beautiful – but it is lacking in worldliness,” said Wajid Shamsul Hasan.
“And a small minority of people don’t support education for women. They claim to be Muslims, but that is a contradiction in terms because Mohammed encouraged everyone to be educated – men and women.
“Those who say otherwise are barbarians. They are not Muslims, nor followers of any religion. Islam gives property rights to women, for instance.
“And that is the kind of strong Muslim woman that Malala represents. That is why we are all so proud of her.”
Pakistan’s president, Nawaz Sharif, said last year that she was “the pride of the nation”.
She has addressed the UN General Assembly, been received by the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and met Barack Obama at the White House – a meeting at which she reportedly spoke to the American president about her concern over continued drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions.
The UN designated July 12 – her birthday – as “Malala Day”, a day of global campaigning for a child’s right to receive an education.
Malala’s first cousin Mehmood ul Hassan, who is the administrator of Khushal Public School where Malala studied before she was shot, said the whole family was thrilled about the award.
“We cannot express the level of our happiness in words. I just spoke to Ziauddin (Malala’s father), and her mother. I also spoke to Malala, and they are all very excited and happy about this,” he said. “Malala told me that Allah has blessed her with this award and she hopes this peace prize will help her cause [of educating girls], which is what she is focused on.”
One of Malala’s teachers, Shumaila Khan, said she was very proud of her former pupil. “I have never seen a brave girl like her. She challenged the Taliban at a time when all men didn’t have the courage to oppose them,” she said.
Source: The Telegraph