Malala Yousafzai says the man who gunned down a Canadian soldier and attacked Parliament Hill did not share her Muslim faith, but rather the same hatred as the one who tried to kill her.
Yousafzai, a Nobel Peace Prize co-winner and Pakistani education advocate, made the remark to a joint session of Parliament Wednesday, moments after she officially became an honorary Canadian citizen.
Her stirring speech began with an acknowledgement that it was all a dream deferred.
Yousafzai, 19, was poised to receive the honour on Oct. 22, 2014. But soon after landing in Toronto, she learned of the fatal shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the National War Memorial, and subsequent chaos in Canada’s capital city.
She flew back to England but pledged to return one day.
On Wednesday, in front of members of Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and other dignitaries, Yousafzai addressed that hateful day with grace.
"I am a Muslim and I believe that if you pick up a gun in the name of Islam and kill an innocent person, you are not Muslim anymore."
“The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim but he did not share my faith. He did not share the faith of one and a half billion Muslims, living in peace around the world,” she said.
The comment yielded a standing ovation. One of many.
“He did not share our Islam. A religion of learning, compassion, and mercy.
“I am a Muslim and I believe that if you pick up a gun in the name of Islam and kill an innocent person, you are not Muslim anymore.”
Malala Yousafzai waves as she arrives to address the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on April 12, 2017. (Photo: Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
The attacker that day shared the same hatred as the one who opened fire on a Quebec City mosque last January, Yousafzai said.
The same hatred as the man who killed a police officer and civilians in London, weeks ago.
The same hatred as the those who massacred 132 children at school in Peshawar, Pakistan.
And yes, the same hatred as the masked Taliban gunman who shot Yousafzai as she rode home from school at 15, a cowardly attempt to take her courageous young life.
Yousafzai said the real aim of her attacker failed, just as they fail in each act of terror.
'A bullet is no match for an idea'
“These men have tried to divide us and destroy our democracies, our freedom of religion, our right to go to school,” she said. “But we and you refuse to be divided. Canadians, wherever you were born, however you worship, stand together.”
Yousafzai is just the sixth person to receive honorary citizenship and the youngest ever. In his introductory remarks, Trudeau said she might be one of the bravest “new Canadians.”
She proved, the prime minister said, that “a bullet is no match for an idea.”
Former prime minister Stephen Harper, whose government led the push to recognize Yousafzai’s bravery on behalf of girls and women seeking the right to education, released a statement saying she embodies what it is to be Canadian.
“Welcome to Canada, Malala,” he wrote on Wednesday.
Watch Yousafzai's full speech:
With a file from The Canadian Press
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