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Malala, at 16, is tougher than Taliban who are ‘afraid of books, pens and women’

A year ago Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old girl from Pakistan, was shot in the head by Taliban assassins in October 2012 because she wanted to go to school. Now fully recovered, she continues to be an activist despite repeated death threats from the Taliban. (AP/Paul Ellis photo)

Malala Yousafzai was riding the bus home from school when a Taliban gunman climbed aboard and shot her in the head a year ago. She nearly died.

The 16-year-old advocate for girls’ education was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as many expected.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to stop the chemical warfare that has haunted the world from Hitler’s gas chambers to the battlefields of Syria.

The teen from Pakistan continues her fight for education with a new book “I am Malala,” even as the Taliban renews their death threat against her.

Malala is from a part of Pakistan that became Taliban territory in 2007. Those who defy the militants’ strict code of Islam are publicly beaten. Politicians and social activists are murdered, their corpses put on display.

More than 200 schools for girls have been blown up.

“Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured, says Malala Yousafzai in a speech to the United Nations a year after recovering from being shot in the head. “I’m just one of them.”

On October 9, 2012 Taliban gunmen shot Malala in the forehead and neck as she returned home on a school bus.

“They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed,” she says.

“The terrorists thought they would stop my aims and change my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this; Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same, my hopes are the same and my dreams are the same.”

Malala – whose first name means ‘grief stricken’ – says she does not hate the Taliban militant who shot her.

“Even if there was a gun in my hand, I would not shoot him. This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone,” says the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee in history.

She demonstrates a wisdom far beyond her years as describes the Taliban not as being tough, scary militants but as being weak, frightened men.

“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The saying ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ is true. The extremists were and they 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,” she says.

“That is why they are blasting schools every day because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of equality that we will bring in to our society.”


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