By Elizabeth Willoughby on
In her second attempt, activist Malala Yousafzai was successful in coming to Canada’s capital to accept an honorary citizenship.
During her first attempt in October 2014, she was stopped at the airport due to an attack at Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. This time, however, went off without a hitch, while Malala’s 20-minute speech to Parliament received several standing ovations. The first ovation came in reference to the 2014 incident.
“The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim, but he did not share my faith,” Malala said. “He did not share the faith of one and a half billion Muslims, living in peace around the world. He did not share our Islam, a religion of learning, compassion and mercy. I am a Muslim and I believe that if you pick up a gun in the name of Islam and kill an innocent person, you are not Muslim anymore.”
In her speech she also spoke about world refugees, the violence many are fleeing and praised Canada’s efforts thus far yet holds out hope for more. “Your motto and your stand ‘Welcome to Canada’ is more than a headline or a hashtag,” she said. “It is the spirit of humanity that every single one of us would yearn for if our family was in crisis.”
Malala said she was impressed with Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet, but she also had a message for her new fellow citizens.
“I would like to tell something to the children of Canada: You do not have to be as old as the very young Prime Minister Trudeau to be a leader,” she said. “I have learned that even a child’s voice can be heard across the world. To the young women of Canada I want to say, step forward, raise your voices, and the next time I visit, I hope to see more of you filling these seats. And to the men of Canada, be proud feminists, and help women get equal opportunities as men.”
But her bigger ask was for the leaders in the room: to seize every opportunity to ensure that all girls in all countries receive an education. After reciting several statistics showing the economic benefits to countries that educate their boys and girls, Malala said: "Education is vital for the security of the world because extremism grows alongside inequality, in places where people feel they have no opportunity, no voice, no hope. "
You can see Malala’s full speech here.
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