Malala awarded top EU Human Rights prize

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani teenager and women’s rights activist, Malala Yousafzai, has been awarded the EU Sakharov prize for Freedom of Thought which honours individuals who defend human rights and freedom of expression. 

The announcement was made this morning in Strasbourg by the European Parliament President, Martin Schultz. Previous laureates include Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

British MEP, Sajjad Karim, has been a vocal supporter of Malala and Conservative MEPs nominated the young activist for the award. Mr Karim said: “There was no surprise in the decision to award Malala Yousafzai the EU Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought this year. The teenage activist has showed, and continues to show, immense courage in the face of oppression and violence. ”

“She stood head and shoulders above the other Sakharov prize nominees and she is truly an inspiring figure. Despite fresh threats from the Taliban, Malala speaks louder than ever on the issue of universal access to education. ”

Mr Sajjad Karim went on to say: “As the Chairman of the Friends of Pakistan group, I am very proud of her determination to fight against this injustice. Her message for girls to be able to attend school is not just one for Pakistan, it is a universal message for us all.”

Malala began her fight for the right to female education from the age of 11 when she kept a BBC blog detailing life under the oppressive Taliban regime.  Last year she was horrifically gunned down by two men who boarded her school bus as she travelled to school. However her spectacular medical recovery in the UK and her defiance to continue speaking up for women’s rights has earned the 16 year old significant praise and she has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize.

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