The extremists are afraid of books and pens

CNN gives the most complete coverage of Malala’s speech at the UN that I’ve seen so far, with a selection of videos.

Speaking for children across the world, she told world leaders: “We are really tired of these wars.”

Yousafzai went on to address specific attacks in Pakistan on teachers and school children. Earlier this summer a female teacher was gunned down in front of her son as she drove into her all-girl school. A school principal was killed and his students severely injured when a bomb was tossed onto a school playground at an all-girl school in Karachi in March.

In January, five teachers were killed near the town of Swabi in the volatile northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the United Nations says.

And, in June, a suicide bomber blew up a bus carrying 40 schoolgirls as it made its way to an all-girl campus in Quetta. Fourteen female students were killed.

“Dear sisters and brothers,” she said, “we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way when we were in Swat, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.

“The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens,” she said.

“The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”

This fear is partly based on the Taliban’s own lack of education, Yousafzai said. And, she said, world leaders should “change their strategic policies” to press for peace and ensure that children’s and women’s rights are protected.

“We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education — all around the world for every child.”

Free, compulsory, and safe – no bombers, no gunmen, no acid attacks, no arson. No theocrats trying frantically to shrink human beings into something tiny and afraid and submissive.


  1. says

    That’s a beautiful speech given by Malala. Yes, the light must be shone everywhere in the world where there is extreme darkness. The darkness is fearful and intense and can swallow up all the goodness if it’s allowed to remain that way.

    I’m reminded of the Boko Haram, Mamudo massacre in Yobe state in the north of Nigeria, where at least 29 students and a teacher were recently killed in an attack on a school; some of the victims were burned alive.

  2. shouldbeworking says

    There are few on twitter trying to deny she was even attacked by the Taliban while others claim she is a tool of western imperialism.

  3. says

    Malala is on the side of the oppressed people of Pakistan and Afghanistan and every other country. She is an enemy of imperialism. She stands for the cause of freedom, progress. And for that the Taliban, who claimed responsibility, has tried to take her young and innocent life. The pen never refuses ‘conspiracy theories’ ink.

  4. says

    Dead you hear the actual audio? Not a hint of shyness. She was clear, calm, full voiced, but not yelling. I’d follow her to the barricades in an instant and I imagine millions will. The Taliban and fundamentalists/patriarchalists everywhere have reason to fear her.

  5. jagwired says


    Yeah, I watched the 20 minute speech and it was very moving. I was awestruck that such powerful words were coming out of the mouth of a 16 year old child, and then you realize English probably isn’t her primary language, and also… she was shot in the head last year. I’m ready to vote for her to be President of Earth.

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