Tuesday, at the opening of the largest public library in Europe, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai praised pens and books as, “the weapons that defeat terrorism.” The Pakistani teen, who gained attention when she was shot by the Taliban for advocating education for girls, is now one of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize nominees. Take that, Taliban!
“Let us not forget that even one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world," said Yousafzai. The last book to enter the library was her copy of Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist, which tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy with lessons about listening to our hearts and ultimately following our dreams.
The new library (pictured below) is located in the town where Yousafzai attends school, Birmingham, England. The building now houses over a million books and the opening drew a crowd 1,000-strong.
Yousafzai has given herself a challenge, “I will read thousands of books, and I will empower myself with knowledge.” She said further, “I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through educating not only our minds, but our hearts and our souls."
Yousafzai used this opportunity to call for peace and to, “speak up for the children of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan who are suffering from terrorism, poverty, child labor and child trafficking.”
Last October, after a Taliban gunman shot Yousafzai in the head on her school bus, she was flown from Pakistan to the UK for emergency treatment. Tuesday, she thanked the medical staff, teachers and townspeople for supporting her in, “my second home,” of Birmingham.
The teen inspiration is due to receive the International Children’s Peace Prize later this week. On her birthday in July, she experienced a different sort of present, addressing the UN’s youth assembly; the day was declared Malala Day. She has also garnered a place as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and though not apparently directly affiliated, her story has sparked new age heroines of all sorts.[Images via Facebook Fan Page and Wikimedia Commons.]