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On U.S. TV, Malala Wows With Compassion


Malala is promoting her book.

Malala is promoting her book.

Generation Nexters in the United States who hadn't yet heard of Malala Yousafzai are almost certainly familiar with her now.

The inspirational young Pakistani campaigner for women's rights and girls' education, who was nearly killed by a Taliban gunman a year ago this week, has already been described as one of the world's most influential people.

She has already addressed the United Nations, speaking eloquently about the importance of international efforts to ensure the universal right to an education, particularly for girls.

And she's already received numerous international awards -- including the Sakharov Prize on October 10 -- and is thought to be under serious consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize that will be handed out on October 11.

But the 16-year-old Swat Valley native's appearance this week on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" -- to share her story but also to promote her new book, "I Am Malala," as well as her foundation, The Malala Fund -- has further burnished her charismatic credentials and her reputation among Stewart's followers: the internationally savvy, wise-cracking hipster demographic.

Here's the extended interview:

One of the interview's most moving moments comes after Stewart asks Malala at around the 3:45 mark, "When did you realize that the Taliban had made you a target?"

She recalls that a woman warned her and her father in 2012: "Have you seen on Google that if you search your name...the Taliban have threatened you?"

Then Malala goes on:

"I just could not believe it. I said, 'No, it's not true.' And even...when we saw it, I was not worried about myself that much; I was worried about my father, because we thought that the Taliban are not that much cruel that they would kill a child -- because I was 14 at that time. But then later on, I used to -- I started thinking about that, and I used to think that a talib [religious militant] would come and he would just kill me. But then I said, 'If he comes, what would you do, Malala?' Then I would reply to myself that, 'Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.'... But then I said, 'If you hit a talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and that talib. You must not treat others that much with cruelty and that much harshly. You must fight others, but through peace and through dialogue and through education.' Then I said I'll tell him how important education is, and that 'I even want education for your children as well,' and I'll tell him, 'That's what I want to tell you, now do what you want.'"

Her words met with sustained applause and comedian Stewart asking Malala if her dad -- who was backstage -- "would...be mad if I adopted you? Because you sure are swell."

Her appearance sparked an avalanche of affection from Twitter admirers. Here are a few of them in no particular order:






Here's RFE/RL's recent video of "Malala's Story," including her exclusive interview with Radio Mashaal journalist Abdul Hai Kakar:


-- Andy Heil

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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