Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for campaigning for girls' education, opened a library today in Birmingham, England, in what is further proof that her assailants have only furthered her cause.
After Yousafzai was shot in October 2012 by extremists as she returned home from school, she was flown to Birmingham to recover — even as the Taliban continued to threaten her, showing just how terrified it was of women gaining even a modicum of rights. Yousafzai, who first came to prominence as she chronicled the Taliban's push to eliminate girls' education in Pakistan's tribal areas, now studies in the English city and, having recovered from her wounds, has continued her campaign. At the library opening, she spoke to the crowd: "I have challenged myself that I will read thousands of books and I will empower myself with knowledge. Pens and books are the weapons that defeat terrorism."
The new Library of Birmingham replaces the Central Library, which was erected in the 1970s. Prince Charles famously said the old one would serve better as a book-burning incinerator than a library. The new one cost £189 million and is supposed to be a vast improvement on its predecessor.
Yousafzai added her own book to the library collection, too — The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Coelho writes in the bestseller, "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it," which explains why it might by Yousafzai's favorite. She has not given up on school, either, and now calls Birmingham her "second home."
Yousafzai was recently featured on the cover of Time's "100 Most Influential People" issue in April.