Malala Yousafzai receives honorary Canadian citizenship | News | DW | 12.04.2017
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Malala Yousafzai receives honorary Canadian citizenship

The 19-year-old Pakistani woman shot to international fame five years ago after recovering from a gunshot wound to the head. She was wounded by a Taliban gunman who opposed her advocacy of education for girls.

Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai received honorary Canadian citizenship on Wednesday, becoming only the sixth person to be so honored - others include the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Myanmar's Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

The 19-year-old Pakistani activist was making her second trip to the seat of Canadian power, in Ottawa. Her first visit to the parliament in 2014 had to be postponed after a gunman attacked the parliament, shooting dead a ceremonial guard.

Yousafzai decried the violence, saying: "The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim. But he did not share my faith. He did not share the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims living in peace around the world."

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She called on Canada to use its turn as president of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations in 2018 to press for the education of girls and refugees.

"Dear Canada, I'm asking you to lead once again," she said, to a standing ovation.

"We should not ask children who flee their homes to also give up their dreams," she continued.

Yousafzai said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must also press other world leaders to do more for education.

"If Canada leads, I know the world will follow, she said.

Yousafzai leapt to global fame after recovering from a gunshot to her head by a Taliban extremist. The gunman shot her on a school bus in 2012 for defending her right to attend school. The Taliban oppose education for girls.

Malala Yousafzai zur kanadischen Ehrenbürgerin ernannt	Malala Yousafzai zur kanadischen Ehrenbürgerin ernannt	Malala Yousafzai zur kanadischen Ehrenbürgerin ernannt (Reuters/C. Wattie)

Yousafzai, flanked by PM Trudeau and his wife Sophie, receives a standing ovation during a joint session of parliament

US nudged on Syrian refugees

During a brief ceremony in the Canadian capital, Yousafzai was given the national flag from atop the Peace Tower at the entrance of parliament, and a copy of her 2013 book "I Am Malala" was added to the parliamentary library.

Yousafzai also praised Canada for taking in more than 40,000 Syrian refugees, and appeared to add an appeal to the US as well.

"I pray that you continue to open your homes and your hearts to the world's most defenseless children and families," she said, "and I hope your neighbors will follow your example."

Yousafzai also joked about Trudeau, Canada's 45-year-old prime minister.

"People are always talking about how young he is. They say he is the second-youngest prime minister in Canada's history. He does yoga; he has tattoos," she said. "When I was coming here, everyone was telling me to shake his hand and let us know how he looks in reality."

In introducing Yousafzai to lawmakers, Trudeau praised her for her advocacy.

"Yours is a story of an ordinary girl doing extraordinary things, an everyday hero... a fearless advocate for girls who wants nothing more than to see more kids in classrooms," he said. "And on top of that, you're impossibly humble."

bik/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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