Abu Dhabi: General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Monday received Pakistan rights activist Malala Yousafzai, the brave girl who was shot in 2012 in the head for advocating girls’ education in Swat, former stronghold of radical group Taliban.
Malala along with his family members was on her way to perform Umrah and stopped over in Abu Dhabi to thank the UAE government and specifically Shaikh Mohammad for his efforts and supportive stand during her treatment. The UAE had sent a medical team and an air ambulance to transfer Malala from Pakistan to UK where she was treated.
Shaikh Mohammad praised Malala’s determination to overcome difficulties and continue to carry forward her noble message even when she was in hospital. He said it is the duty of everyone to stand by Malala in her mission of promoting the principles of love and peace. Shaikh Mohammad expressed hope that Malala’s position will stand as a landmark example to promote education on the larger scale across the world.
Malala stood with courage against extremists who worked to prevent girls from going to school. “Malala works to promote the values of forgiveness and tolerance,” Shaikh Mohammad said.
Shaikh Mohammad had denounced the attack on Malala as an assault not only on a helpless girl but also an attack on the right of every girl for a better future.
Shaikh Mohammad said that the education of women was a basic right in accordance with the Islamic religion teachings, indicating that the UAE was well ahead regarding the empowerment of women in the area of education so as to discharge their roles in accordance with the legacy outlined by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
He reiterated the interest of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in empowering women to play their pivotal role in comprehensive development, adding that that approach has helped the UAE to attain prestigious status regarding social justice, respect and tolerance.
Shaikh Mohammad said Emirati women scored many achievements in all fields, citing the efforts of Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council of Motherhood and Childhood, in supporting the women and contribution to the nation-building, as well as catapulting Emirati women to occupy the leading and executive posts in the country. He also referred to Shaikha Fatima’s humanitarian role, especially in the areas of women and childhood.
The meeting was attended by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, Shaikh Saeed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler’s Representative, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, Lt. General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Shaikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and Shaikh Omar Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation.
Gulf News learnt that earlier Malala spoke to students at a reception in Abu Dhabi. Malala urged them to stand up for their rights, instead of protesting in isolation. “The most important think is that all girls should have the right to education and they should bravely face those who deny their rights to get educated,” Malala said.
Malala, 15, the youngest Noble Peace Prize nominee, had campaigned for the rights of girls to have an education and had written a diary for the BBC Urdu service when the Pakistan Taliban controlled her home area of Swat in 2009. “You need courage and initiative to find your way to success in the life,” she told the girl students.
“The world has changed, women cannot be dictated by men anymore; so we have to change ourselves to be independent individuals instead of being dependents,” she said. She thanked the UAE government for taking special care of her.
“I belonged to a poor family with little food and no home of our own, but you don’t need wealth and leisure to achieve your target. I took courage and stepped forward when I was asked to write for the rights of girls’ education and I faced cameras when I was told to speak for the rights of girls and here I am a well respected girl who is now known as a symbol of courage for girls,” she said . - With inputs from WAM