“Pens and books are the weapons that defeat terrorism,” said Malala Yousufzai, Pakistani schoolgirl who was almost killed in a terrorist attack in Swat for daring to defend the right of girls to be educated, in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Ms. Yousafzai was the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the new Birmingham Library .

Her speech was a moving celebration of books, knowledge and the right of children to be educated.

The new state-of-the-art library will now be the largest in Europe and is expected to attract three million visitors a year.

Welcoming the guests and “fellow Brummies”, she spoke of her love and gratitude for the city, “the beating heart of England” and her “second home after my beloved Pakistan”. She was treated here, and “the teachers of this town helped rehabilitate my educational career”.

It was also here that she was introduced to a culture of books and reading, which shaped her resolve to read “thousands of books” to empower herself through knowledge, she said.

Appealing to her fellow students to speak up for the rights of 57 million out-of-school children to an education, and to be free from war, poverty, terrorism and trafficking, Ms. Yousafzai said that “even one book, one pen, one child and one teacher” could change the world.

After the opening, Ms. Yousafzai placed the last book on the shelves of the library, her copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

This article has been corrected for an editing error.


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