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South Asia

Malala accepts honorary Canadian citizenship

Xinhua News Agency | Thu,2017-04-13

Nobel Prize laureate and newly designated UN Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan Wednesday addressed the Canadian parliament after accepting a honorary Canadian citizenship from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Speaking to a joint session of the parliament, Malala became the youngest person ever to address the Canadian parliament, which unanimously supported granting the honorary citizenship to her on Oct. 21, 2014.

However, a ceremony scheduled in Toronto with then-prime minister Stephen Harper was abruptly cancelled due to an terrorist attack in the parliament.

The 19-year-old Pakistani girl spoke highly of Canada for its commitment to helping refugees, advancing women's rights and working for world peace.

She urged Canada to use its influence in the world to push for more education funding for girls and child refugees around the world.

"If Canada leads, the world will follow," she said to roaring applause and repeated standing ovations in the packed Canadian parliament.

She said that once an attacker commits violence in the name of her religion, "you are not a Muslim anymore."

Malala's address was also peppered with humour, as she recalled peers who were gushing over her opportunity to meet the young Canadian prime minister who sports tattoos and practices yoga.

She commended Trudeau as a youthful leader who can hold influence with other world leaders.

In 2012, the Taliban shot Malala in the head when she was on her way to school in Pakistan because she advocated for the right of girls to go to school in the country.

She survived the terrorist attack and became an international symbol of the fight for girls education.

After moving with her family to Birmingham, England, she and her father co-founded the non-profit Malala Fund in 2013 and co-authored the best-selling book "I am Malala."

Named a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, Malala was also the youngest person ever to earn the distinction.

She was designated as UN Messenger of Peace on April 10 by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and became the youngest UN Messenger of Peace given by the world body.