STEWART: Welcome back my guest tonight, she’s an advocate for girls access to education worldwide, she is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, her new book is called “I Am Malala” the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban. Please welcome to the program Malala Yousafzai.
STEWART: Nice to see you. Thank you for being here.
MALALA: Thank you so much, it’s an honor for me.
STEWART: It is an honor for us, I know me. This is, by the way, we talked a little bit before the show, nothing feels better than making you laugh, I will say that, I enjoyed that very much.
MALALA: Thank you.
STEWART: “I Am Malala”, it, it’s honestly humbling to meet you. You are sixteen, where did your love for education come from?
MALALA: We are human beings and this is the part of our human nature, that we don’t learn the importance of anything, until it’s snatched from our hands. And when, in Pakistan when we were stopped from going to school, at that time I realized that education is very important and education is the power for women and that’s why the terrorists are afraid of education. They do not want women to get education because then women will become more powerful.
STEWART: Exactly, exactly right. When did the Taliban come to Swat Valley, because before then, you describe it as a paradise of sorts?
MALALA: The Taliban came in 2004, but at that time they were quite good, they did not show the terrorism and they did not blast any schools at that time. But they started the real terrorism in 2007, they have blasted more than 400 schools in Swat, they have slaughtered people and in the month of January 2009, they used to slaughter even two, three people every night and they had flogged them. We had seen the barbaric situation of the 21st century and we have seen the cruelty and we have seen harsh days in our life and those are regarded as the darkest days of our life, so it was really hard for us at that time.
STEWART: You describe in the book, still, no matter what, they took the signs off of schools, they went underground, but they continued, in the face of, you spoke out publicly against the Taliban, what gave you the courage to continue this?
MALALA: You know, my father was a great encouragement for me because he spoke out for women’s rights, he spoke out for girl’s education and at that time I said that why should I wait for someone else, why should I be looking to the government, to the army that they would help us? Why don’t I raise my voice, why don’t we speak up for our rights? The girls of Swat, they spoke up for their rights, I started writing diary, I spoke on every media channel that I could, and I raised my voice on every platform that I could and I said I need to tell the world what is happening in Swat, and I need to tell the world that Swat is suffering from terrorism and we need to fight against terrorism.
STEWART: When did you realize the Taliban had made you a target?
MALALA: When, in 2012, we were, I was with my father and someone came and she told us that, have you seen on Google that if you search your name and the Taliban has threatened you? And I just could not believe it, I said no it’s not true and even after the third 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 like, I started thinking about that and I used to think that the Tali 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 Malala just take a shoe and hit him, but then I said, if you hit a Tali with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Tali. 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 would tell him how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well and I would tell him, that’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.
STEWART: Let me ask you, I know your father is back stage and he is very proud of you, but would he be mad if I adopted you? Because you sure are swell. Could you stick around? I want to talk a little bit more about sort of Swat Valley and what it was like growing up there and how people can get involved through the Malala Fund and those types of things, do you have a little bit of time?
MALALA: Yeah, yeah, sure.
STEWART: “I Am Malala” is on the bookshelves now. Donate to the Malala Fund, visit www.malalafund.org! Malala Yousafzai, we’ll be right back.
STEWART: Wonderful to hear you talk. We are back; we are talking to Malala, the book “I Am Malala” is on shelves right now. Your love of school, reminds me so much of my children (laughter) o.k., maybe not. The people of Swat Valley, when the Tali first came, they thought, they’re bringing order, they’re bringing services, they established a court that was faster than Pakistani courts,
STEWART: and the people responded, when did that begin to turn?
MALALA: When the Taliban came, they were trying to convince people and they were just misusing the name of Islam and they were telling people, “We will just set up another court for you and we will provide you justice on time” because usually in courts in Pakistan, people dies and their case is not yet resolved in the courts, so that’s what is happening in the courts of Pakistan. So people just said like “If the Taliban are doing it why don’t we support them?” But then they were that much cruel, they started slaughtering people and they even blasted a generator of electricity and it was the month of Ramadan in which we keep fast, in which we don’t eat on the day, in which we don’t drink for the whole day. They blasted the electricity generators which was providing electricity to the whole city of Mingora. And we could not have water because electricity was related to water supply as well and people were sitting in the dark, people could not buy electricity generators, people were just sitting in the light of candles, and people were just dying of thirst at that time. But my father’s a great father because he bought a generator for the school to create electricity and to provide water to the street and to that community. But still, many people were suffering from that hard situation and other than that, our freedom was taken from us.
MALALA: The women’s freedom, we could not go to market, we were not allowed to go to school, we were just kept imprisoned. We were just limited to the four walls of our house, women’s rights were denied at that time and that’s why I spoke, because I believe in equality and I believe that there is no difference between a man and a women, I even believe that a woman is more powerful than men. (The crowd cheers)
STEWART: Wait, whoa, wait, what? You know Malala; this was going so well, you were doing so beautifully and then suddenly BAM. This is the part that they began to say you cannot dance.
STEWART: You cannot, the women cannot do these things, you say that many people believe this is a wrong interpretation of Islam, of the Koran. Do you, why have the Taliban and these more extreme groups been able to be successful, is it the fear that they bring to these towns? Do they, is that why the people have had a hard time throwing it off?
MALALA: The first thing is that they were really cruel. They had thrashing clubs, they had guns in their hands, and if I have a gun in my hand and I tell you something, do this, you have to do that because it’s for your life, so there was fear all around, that’s why people could not say anything. Then the second thing was that they were misusing the name of Islam. They were telling people that “we are doing this for Islam, we are doing this for Allah, we are doing this for prophet, peace be upon him”, so as it is they were using religion for their own personal benefit, so that’s also the reason. But then later on, people tried to realize this and the girls are very brave and girls in our school, like we were at that time we were just eleven or twelve years old, but we spoke up for our rights to every media channel, to every newspaper that we could. And we did not know at that time that our small interview would have an impact or not, but it had, because we were raising up our voice and we were speaking up for our rights and we were speaking for peace in Swat, we wanted to live a normal life because Swat is like a paradise on earth. I believe in two paradises, one I’ll get after death, but the other one that is on earth, for me that is Swat, because Swat is really beautiful. And you would be, you would be astonished when you see the lush green hills and when you see the tall mountain and the rivers that we have, the crystal clear water and you can find trout, so it’s really beautiful, you would love Swat.
STEWART: Malala, I’m from New Jersey, so I know a little something about paradise, the beaches…
STEWART: It does, it sounds magnificent and it is heartbreaking, because you see what these children want and what these people want, is to just live in peace without having this imposed on them
STEWART: and I think we don’t know what to do to help. You know, there are passages in the book about the United States and we come out great (he gives a smile and a thumbs up to the audience) but there are attacks in Swat and in those areas, drones and they talk about a man, a CIA agent who shot two men in Lahore, uh Raymond uh
STEWART: Davis, and this is, I think we have a common want and desire, but perhaps are not accomplishing it in the manner that shows the people how we, how we feel, but in some ways, we don’t know what else to do. What is your thought on that?
MALALA: Well I think that the people of America, the United States, they truly support peace and they say that we must not fight against war through war, they believe that dialogue is the best way and we must try to find a solution for it. And in my opinion, the solution that would work to fight all these wars and all these problems that people are facing is only education. Because you can stop war for a second, but you don’t know it will start again or not, we have seen first world war, we have seen second world war and I think third world war is coming, but I believe that we must stop it now. I don’t want to see a third world war in this world again and the best way to fight against this war is education, because as we can see, the children are suffering from terrorism, they are suffering from child labor and child trafficking, they’re also suffering from the culture norms and traditions, there is not only one issue that we are facing to, there are many others as well, so I think education is the best way. People will be thinking, just going to school learning about chemistry and physics and math and that’s it. Going to school is not only learning about different subjects, it teaches you communication, it teaches you how to live a life, it teaches you about history, it teaches you about how science is working. And other than that, you learn about equality because students are provided the same benches, they sit equally, it shows us equality, it teaches students how to live with others together, how to accept each other’s language, how to accept each other’s traditions and each other’s religion. It also teaches us justice, it also teaches us respect, it teaches us how to live together, so that’s why I support the idea of sending children to school because it is the best way to fight terrorism. And I want people to support us in this cause and through Malala Foundation we want to work for education of girls in the developing countries, especially in Syria now, they are suffering, they are homeless now. We want to help children in Afghanistan because they have been suffering from terrorism for decades, we want to help the children of India as well because they are victims of child labor, so I think issues and problems are enormous, but the solution is one and it is simple, that is education. (Loud applause)
STEWART: I am humbled, humbled to speak with you.
MALALA: Thank you.
STEWART: I will say this, I don’t know where you come from, but I am very glad you’re here.
MALALA: Thank you.
STEWART: Thank you for being here today, wonderful. Please get the book, donate to the Malala Fund by visiting www.malalafund.org. Malala Yousafzai.