Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist and Nobel Peace laureate, said Friday she was “heartbroken” by Donald Trump’s order on refugees and urged the US president not to abandon the world’s “most defenseless.”
“I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war,” said the 19-year-old, shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after publicly advocating education for girls in her home country.
“In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families,” she added in a statement just moments after Trump signed the decree.
Yousafzai is the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which she shared in 2014 with India’s Kailash Satyarthi, a fellow education activist.
Now living in England, she made a remarkable recovery after undergoing medical treatment and has traveled the world as a campaigner.
“I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants — the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life,” she said.
The decree signed by Trump was entitled: “Protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.”
The White House did not immediately make the wording public, but a draft text leaked to US media said it would suspend the entire US refugee resettlement program for at least 120 days while tough new vetting rules are established.
In addition, it specifically bars Syrian refugees from the United States indefinitely, or until Trump decides that they no longer pose a threat.
“I am heartbroken that Syrian refugee children, who have suffered through six years of war by no fault of their own, are singled out for discrimination,” said Yousafzai.
She named a friend who had fled wars in Somalia, Yemen and Egypt to study in the United States, where she had hoped to be reunited with her sister.
“Today her hope of being reunited with her precious sister dims,” she said.
Malala Yousafzai (S.St) (born 12 July 1997) is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Malala’s advocacy has since grown into an international movement.
Her family runs a chain of schools in the region. In early 2009, when she was 11–12, Malala wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu detailing her life under Taliban occupation, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls in the Swat Valley. The following summer, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. Malala rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.
On the afternoon of 9 October 2012, Malala boarded her school bus in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat. A gunman asked for her by name, then pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of Malala’s forehead, travelled under her skin through the length of her face, and went into her shoulder. In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, for intensive rehabilitation. On 12 October, a group of 50 Muslim clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her, but the Taliban reiterated their intent to kill Malala and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai. The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Malala. Deutsche Welle wrote in January 2013 that Malala may have become “the most famous teenager in the world.” United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a UN petition in Malala’s name, demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015; it helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill.
The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured Malala as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, and the recipient of the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In July that year, she spoke at the headquarters of the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education, and in October the Government of Canada announced its intention that its parliament confer Honorary Canadian citizenship upon Malala. In February 2014, she was nominated for the World Children’s Prize in Sweden. Even though she was fighting for women’s rights as well as children’s rights, she did not describe herself as feminist when asked on Forbes Under 30 Summit in 2014. In 2015, however, Malala told Emma Watson she decided to call herself a feminist after hearing Watson’s speech at the UN launching the HeForShe campaign. In May 2014, Malala was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Later in 2014, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi, for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Aged 17 at the time, Malala became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She was the subject of Oscar-shortlisted 2015 documentary He Named Me Malala. Since March 2013, she has been a pupil at the all-girls’ Edgbaston High School in Birmingham. On 20 August 2015, she achieved a string of A’s and A*s in her GCSE exams.