A teenager who was shot by the Taliban after campaigning for women’s rights declared herself an honorary Brummie as she officially opened a new £188 million (Rs 2,000 crore) civic library in Birmingham, London.
Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a vocal campaigner for girls’ education in Pakistan, was attacked by gunmen on a school bus near her former home in Pakistan in October in 2012.
Hailing pens and books as ‘weapons’ that can defeat terrorism, Malala began a speech outside the library by addressing the crowd as her ‘fellow Brummies’.
She said: “It is my dream that one day, great buildings like this one will exist in every corner of the world so every child can grow up with the opportunity to succeed.
The content of a book holds the power of education and it is with this power that we can shape our future and change lives.
There is no greater weapon than knowledge and no greater source of knowledge than the written word.”
At the library opening Malala, who now attends Edgbaston High School for girls in Birmingham, placed her copy of The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho in the library -- the last book to go on the shelves.
Malala said: “Birmingham is very special for me because it is here that I found myself alive, seven days after I was shot. It is now my second home, after my beloved Pakistan.”
She used her seven-minute speech to call for peace and development in Nigeria, Syria and Somalia. “Let us not forget that even one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.”