Malala: Release Nigerian ‘sisters’
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, left, shakes hands with Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, right, at the Presidential villa, in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday, July 14, 2014. Yousafzai on Monday won a promise from Nigerias leader to meet with the parents of some of the 219 schoolgirls held by Islamic extremists for three months. Malala celebrated her 17th birthday on Monday in Nigeria with promises to work for the release of the girls from the Boko Haram movement. (AP Photo)
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot by the Taliban because she advocated education for girls, visits Abuja, Nigeria, Sunday July 13, 2014. Malala Yousafzai traveled to Abuja in Nigeria to meet the relatives of schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram three months ago. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)
The Pakistani teen who survived a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012 marked her 17th birthday yesterday with a visit to Nigeria and urged Islamic extremists to free the 219 schoolgirls who were kidnapped there, calling them her “sisters.”
Malala Yousafzai, who has become an international symbol for women’s rights in the face of hard-line Islam, said Nigeria’s president promised to meet for the first time with the abducted girls’ parents.
“My birthday wish this year is ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ now and alive,” she said, using the social media slogan that has been picked up around the world to demand freedom for the girls, who were abducted by the extremist group Boko Haram in April from a school in the remote northeast Nigerian town of Chibok.
Malala appealed directly to their captors as she held hands with some of the girls who escaped.
“Lay down your weapons. Release your sisters. Release my sisters. Release the daughters of this nation. Let them be free. They have committed no crime.”
She added: “You are misusing the name of Islam . . . Islam is a religion of peace.”