Nobel prize-winner Malala Yousafzai: Don't blame all Muslims for terrorism
Nobel prize-winner Malala Yousafzai has urged people not to blame all Muslims for terrorism as she joined others to remember a deadly school attack in Pakistan.
The 18-year-old said comments such as those by controversial United States presidential hopeful Donald Trump could "radicalise more terrorists" and urged politicians to think carefully before speaking.
Trump said the US should ban all Muslim immigration in the wake of recent killings in San Bernardino.
But education campaigner Malala, who survived being shot in the head by terrorists, told Channel 4 News: "I can just highlight one thing.
"The more you speak about Islam and against all Muslims, the more terrorists we create."
Speaking ahead of the Poppies for Peace in Peshawar event in her adopted home of Birmingham amid tight security today, Malala has previously said how she is "proud to be a Brummie".
The event falls on the eve of the first anniversary of a deadly attack on the school by Pakistani Taliban which left 145 dead, including 132 pupils.
Malala herself narrowly avoided death in 2012 after being shot by the terror group for her out-spoken campaigning over girls' rights to an education.
She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October last year and has continued to campaign for children's rights to education across the world, addressing the United Nations (UN) on the issue.
In an interview before the event, Ms Yousafzai said she had also been inspired to call herself a feminist by a speech by actress Emma Watson made at the UN.
"When I listened to Emma Watson's speech at the UN, that was a really inspiring speech. Because that confusion you have in your mind, whether you should call yourself a feminist or not," she said.
"Even though you are, you believe in equality, you believe in equal rights for both men and women, but you just can't say that single word, that you are a feminist.
"And then I said I should not hesitate and I should say that I am a feminist."
Malala added she had no problem calling herself both a Muslim and feminist.
She said: "I think in terms of religion, there is not a very clear-cut answer to these issues. For example, women's rights, in terms of politics, everything is interpreted in different ways by different people. But to me Islam is about equality and calling myself feminist would have no position from the religion."
Since the attack, the campaigner has jointly founded the Malala Fund along with her father - which campaigns and invests in girls' secondary education.
Malala also urged politicians to be "really careful" not to risk radicalising more terrorists.
Asked about Republican presidential candidate Trump's recent comments to bar entry for all Muslims into the United States, she said: "So it's important that whatever politicians say, whatever the media say, they should be really, really careful about it.
"If your intention is to stop terrorism, do not try to blame the whole population of Muslims for it because it cannot stop terrorism. It will radicalise more terrorists."
Among those attending the memorial event in Edgbaston, Birmingham, was brave schoolboy Ahmad Nawaz who is lending his voice to Malala's call to fight terrorist ideology with pens and textbooks.
Ahmad survived the Peshawar attack by playing dead for two hours, lying in his blood-soaked uniform while the Taliban moved among the injured dispatching any who showed signs of life.
The 15-year-old, who was shot in the arm during the assault, said raising awareness about such killings and atrocities would help make sure such "unforgettable" attacks were never repeated.
Turning to the events of December 16 last year, he described how he was still wracked with guilt after his younger brother Haris died in the attack.
Ahmad said: "I lost my brother and I was feeling even worse and guilty, thinking of that morning he insisted he didn't want to go to school that day, but I pushed him to go.
"I saw my teacher burned alive. I was surrounded by the dead bodies of my friends whom I was laughing and joking with just a few moments before - then they were dead.
The youngster, who was treated for his wounds at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, said: "We are not only here to remember those who died, but here to ask them that terrible incidents and attacks like this never happen again.
"That's is why we're here."
He was joined at the event by 14-year-old fellow survivor Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, who was left in a wheelchair after being shot in the back.
During the evening, Malala's father Ziauddin Yousafzai, addressing the audience, told of how the Taliban's attack on Peshawar had "turned the city of flowers into the city of coffins".
He also criticised the Trump, and said: "If Americans don't stand against their own Donald Trumps it (their strategy) will not work."
Belfast Telegraph Digital