15 Dec 2015

Malala Yousafzai: ‘I’m a feminist and a Muslim’

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and campaigner for girls’ education, says she considers herself to be a feminist – as well as a proud Brummie.

Talking to Jon Snow in Birmingham, where she lives, the 18-year-old also had words for politicians who make inflammatory remarks about Islam and Muslims, saying they are helping to encourage terrorism.

Ms Yousafzai said she was inspired to call herself a feminist by a speech the 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.

‘I should not hesitate’

“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.”

Ms Yousafzai, who settled in Britain after being shot on a school bus in her native Pakistan, was asked if it was easy for her as a Muslim to say she was a feminist.

‘Islam is about equality’

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.”

Ms Yousafzai said she considered herself to be a Brummie.

“I think I am a Brummie and I’m proud to be a Brummie. Also I’m really thankful to people here in the UK for all their support, their love and for making me feel that this is home, and that you have the right to live and that you deserve love and kindness.

“What I went through in my life was a horrible incident, but here the love of people really strengthened me. And it continues to strengthen me. That’s why I am able to continue my campaign for education.”

‘The more terrorists you create’

Following Donald Trump’s comments about ending Muslim emigration to the US, and asked how she responded to the “wild things being said about Islam and Muslims”, she said: “I can just highlight one thing. The more you speak about Islam and against all Muslims, the more terrorists we create.

“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.”