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Students shout slogans near photographs of child activist Malala Yousufzai to mark "Malala Day" in Karachi, Nov 10, 2012. — Photo by AFP

MINGORA: As the world prepared to mark “Malala Day” on Saturday to support the teenager shot by the Taliban for promoting girls' education, security fears in her hometown meant her schoolmates could not honour her in public.

Taliban hitmen shot Malala Yousufzai on her school bus a month ago in Mingora in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley in a cold-blooded murder attempt for the “crime” of campaigning for girls' right to go to school and opposing the Taliban.

Miraculously, the 15-year-old survived and her courage has won the hearts of millions around the world, prompting the UN to declare Saturday a “global day of action” for her.

People around the globe are expected to hold vigils and demonstrations honouring Malala and calling for the 32 million girls worldwide who are denied education to be allowed to go to school.

But in Mingora, the threat of further Taliban reprisals casts a fearful shadow, and students at Malala's Khushhal Public School were forced to honour her in private.

“We held a special prayer for Malala today in our school assembly and also lit candles,” school principal Mariam Khalid told AFP.

“We did not organise any open event because our school and its students still face a security threat.”

Though their bid to kill Malala failed, the Taliban have said they will attack any woman who stands against them and fears are so great that Khalid said even speaking to the media could put students' lives in danger.

Malala rose to prominence with a blog for the BBC charting life in Swat under the Taliban, whose bloody two-year reign of terror supposedly came to an end with an army operation in 2009.

Despite the dangers, some children in Mingora were determined to speak out and pledged to follow Malala's brave example.

“Malala is a good friend of mine. She is brave and has honour and whoever attacked her did a terrible thing,” a 12-year-old student, who studies at a school close to Malala's, said.

“After the attack on her and her injuries, we have now more courage to study and now we will fulfill her mission to spread education everywhere,” the student, whose name has been removed for reasons of security, told AFP.

Another student, also 12, added: “Malala is the daughter of the nation and we are proud of her.

“She has stood by us and for our education up to now and now it is time that we should stand by her and complete her mission”.

Nearly 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Malala to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and on Friday UN special education envoy Gordon Brown handed a separate million-strong petition in support of Malala to President Asif Zardari.

Islamabad on Friday also announced a UN-backed scheme to give poor families cash incentives to send their children to school in a bid to get three million more youngsters into education.

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Comments (13)

Ravi
November 10, 2012 11:06 pm
It is very bad situation for Pakistan that chidren, specially girls can not speak openly for their right to education given by allah and prophet Mohammed PBUH through most revered holy quran. What kind of twisted islam talibans are trying to impose. It seems talibans are bent on keeping people uneducated so the people shall not be able to understand true Islam, a religion of peace and tolerance.
Agha Ata (USA)
November 10, 2012 2:54 pm
I wish our army also had the courage to have a Malala Day!
Pakman
November 12, 2012 4:20 am
Are you saying the Malala incident is orchestrated, that the buring and destroying of schools in Swat, Waziristan, and else where, never happened, that the Taliban are in fact propmote education and progress, Taliban do not have inncoent blood in their hands, its all a big conspiracy by foreign powers. If you answer is yes to all or some of above, then I would start by waking from the deep sleep one is in and begin my day by smelling the coffee.
Sue Sturgess
November 12, 2012 2:48 am
Yes. Uneducated people are far easier to control.
Sue Sturgess
November 12, 2012 2:50 am
I wonder if the last generation also said that?
Mohammad Ali
November 11, 2012 7:25 am
The Taliban with extreme behaviour were portraying pessimistic individual thinking towards Islam.On other hand the occidents beliefs in naked art and culture were playing diplomacy and hypocracy in ethical behaviour towards protecting women empowerment.
suhrwardy
November 11, 2012 2:53 am
i think its high time this malala drama should stop now.
Anwar
November 11, 2012 1:28 am
All talk and propaganda, the poor girl is being used to milk more money from the USA. Shame,Shame ,Shame
Javed
November 10, 2012 1:56 pm
A brave daugther of Pakistan a true Ambassodar of Education for girls by all means deserve a Noble Prize. May ALLAH Shower His Blessings on her & her family. Zardari is expected to provide protection to all the girls against any threat hindering their Education.
Yawar
November 10, 2012 10:33 pm
"But in Mingora, the threat of further Taliban reprisals casts a fearful shadow, and students at Malala’s Khushhal Public School were forced to honour her in private." We still have a long way to go to remove the fear of death at the hands of monsters.
Cyrus Howell
November 10, 2012 6:51 pm
Imran Khan arrived a little bit before his time.
Cyrus Howell
November 10, 2012 6:49 pm
Thank God. These generations in Pakistan now only have to wait until Malala's generation grows up and they will fix everything; and volunteer for the army to fight the Taliban. What a relief.
muhammad
November 10, 2012 4:03 pm
May all mighty Allah bless Malala with complete and speedy recovery and the terrorists who did this shall go to hell soon
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