NEW YORK, Nov. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC congratulates Malala Yousafzai on receiving the Sakharov Prize, Europe's highest human rights award.
The 16-year-old Pakistani was shot in the head a year ago by the Taliban in an attempt to silence her for the simple act of affirming her right to attend school. Since her recovery, she has been even more outspoken and addressed the UN in September.
"If opportunity and hope are to triumph over oppression and obscurantism, it will only be because of the moral and physical courage of a Malala Yousafzai," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "She is an inspiration for people around the world of all ages to confront tyranny and advocate for the most basic human rights."
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded by the European Parliament annually in memory of the legendary Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov. "You have given hope to millions of children," said European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who presented the award in Strasbourg, France. "It is our responsibility to ensure that your dream becomes a reality," he added, referring to Yousafzai's persistent advocacy for making education accessible, especially to girls, around the world.
"I dedicate this award to the unsung heroes of Pakistan and people all over the world fighting for basic human rights," said Yousafzai, "Many children have no food to eat, no water to drink, and children are starving for education," she said. "It is alarming that 57 million children are deprived of education. This must shake our conscience."
Yousafzai called on the European parliamentarians to "look beyond Europe," and assist people in countries around the world who are "still deprived of their basic rights, their freedom of thought is suppressed, and their freedom of speech is enchained."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee