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Malala Yousafzai offered honorary Canadian citizenship

Ottawa, Oct 18 (): The Canadian government announced on Wednesday that the Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, will be granted honorary Canadian citizenship.

State-run Radio Pakistan reported on Thursday that Malala will become the sixth person to be honoured with the honorary Canadian citizenship after South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, British business magnate Aga Khan and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.

In a speech setting out its significances for the next two years, the Canadian government said that Canada recognizes the daring and inspiring example set by Malala Yousafzai in risking her life to promote education for young women. They also said the teenager faced down evil and oppression and now speaks boldly for those who are silenced.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met Yousafzai on Sept. 26 in New York where she discussed her efforts to promote education for women and girls. The Prime Minister has also invited her to visit Canada.

Malala Yousafzai now lives in England with her family. She was the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, which was won by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons last week.

Last week, the 16-year-old Pakistani activist won the European Union’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize and was welcomed at the White House by US President Barack Obama.

However, the Pakistani Taliban has said that Malala Yousafzai had done “nothing” to deserve a prestigious EU rights award and has promised to try again to kill her.

After getting death threats from the Taliban for challenging the Islamist militant group with her open views on the right to education, Yousafzai was shot a year ago while on a school bus near her village in Swat in north-western Pakistan.