It’s a run race if you ask me…
But apart from that I want to draw attention to the speech itself, it is smart, very smart indeed, well written (text here) and very well delivered.
Malala starts her speech with the bismillah – which is a normal thing to do for Muslims – but she does it with ever so slight emphasis. She carefully and slowly recites the Arabic formula and then translates it into English. By doing so she not only presents herself as a believing Muslim, she also emphasises the prime qualities of the God she believes in: the most benificent, the most merciful.
Malala emphasises that Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood, that it requires its adherents to get education for their children. Conversely she accuses those opposing education for all to misuse Islam for their own personal benefit. This way she claims Islam for herself: it’s hers, not the Talibans, it backs her up and what she does is Islamic to the core.
Just before that, she poses four important concepts that guide her: compassion, change, non-voilence and forgiveness. With all she mentions her inspirators. Mohammed, Jesus and Buddha stand for compassion, change she was taught by Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and for non-violence she looks towards Gandhiji, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. These nine inspirators – not counting her parents, whom she mentions with ‘forgiveness’ – come from various walks of life, different nations and diverse religions.
This way she positions herself very much as a global citizen, as an heir to various religious and social traditions. On a smaller scale, by mentioning Jinnah and Bacha Khan, she also does not neglect the fact that she is a daughter of Pakistan and the links she has to Pashtun culture.
Her hopes and aspirations – in other words – are the hopes and aspirations of all: not just people of all religions and nations, but even God.