The Herald Bulletin

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July 12, 2013

Malala celebrates 16th birthday with UN address

(Continued)

UNITED NATIONS —

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.

Malala said she learned to "be peaceful and love everyone" from Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and other global advocates of non-violence; from the compassion of religious figures Mohammad, Jesus Christ and Buddha; from the legacy of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who led Pakistan to independence in 1947.

"I'm not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban, or any other terrorist group," she said. "I'm here to speak about the right of education for every child."

"I want education for the sons and daughters of all the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hands and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him," she said.

Malala said her main focus was on the education of girls and the rights of women "because they are suffering the most."

"We cannot succeed when half of us are held back," she said, urging all communities to be tolerant and reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, religion or gender.

A report by UNESCO and Save the Children issued just before Malala's speech said 57 million youngsters were out of school in 2011, down from 60 million in 2008. But it said the number living in conflict zones rose to 28.5 million in 2011 and more than half were girls.

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