Malala Yousafzai: Pakistani teen shot by Taliban opens new library in Birmingham

 

A teenager who was shot by the Taliban after campaigning for women's rights declared herself an honorary Brummie today as she officially opened a new £188 million civic library.

Malala Yousafzai was warmly applauded by a 1,000-strong crowd outside the Library of Birmingham as she thanked the people of the city for their support during her ordeal.

The 16-year-old schoolgirl was flown from Pakistan to the UK for emergency treatment last October after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman.

Hailing pens and books as "weapons" that can defeat terrorism, Malala began a speech outside the library by addressing the crowd as her "fellow Brummies".

Speaking clearly and loudly, the teenager, who now attends a school in Birmingham, said: "It is an honour for me to be here in Birmingham, the beating heart of England.

"Birmingham is very special for me because it is here that I found myself alive, seven days after I was shot.

"It is now my second home, after my beloved Pakistan.

"The doctors and nurses of this town worked hard to help me recover.

"The teachers of this town strived to rehabilitate my educational career, and the great people of this city gave me great moral support."

Malala, who unveiled a stainless steel plaque marking the library's official opening, informed the crowd that she had challenged herself to read thousands of books.

The teenager added: "Pens and books are the weapons that defeat terrorism.

"I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through educating not only our minds, but our hearts and our souls."

Malala, who was given a library membership card after finishing her speech, was targeted by the Taliban after campaigning for girls' right to attend school.

Surgeons who treated Malala said she came within inches of death when a bullet grazed her brain.

Malala, who is also due to receive the International Children's Peace Prize later this week in recognition of her dedication to children's rights, used her seven-minute speech to call for peace and development in Nigeria, Syria and Somalia.

"We must speak up for the children of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan who are suffering from terrorism, poverty, child labour and child trafficking," she said.

"Let us help them through our voice, action and charity. Let us help them to read books and go to school.

"And let us not forget that even one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world."

The Library of Birmingham, located in Centenary Square, has a distinctive skin of metal hoops and replaces the city's nearby Brutalist Central Library, which opened in 1974.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey also attended the ceremony to take the wraps off the 333,000 sq ft library, which is covered in interlocking metal circles.

More than three million people are expected to use the library - designed by Dutch firm Mecanoo Architecten - in its first year.

Speaking shortly before Malala addressed the crowd gathered outside the library's main entrance, Mr Vaizey described the new building as an "ode" to the book, the 21st century, and Birmingham itself.

The Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward, said the structure, which has a 3,000-tonne steel frame, represented the UK's largest public sector cultural project.

"With his building we have a new iconic image," he said. "This is a very special moment for Birmingham and its people."

The library's architect, Francine Houben, regards it as a "People's Palace" which will stimulate knowledge and support self-development.

"Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe, it has a rich history and many identities," she said. "This building is inspired by these qualities."

Housing Birmingham's civic archives and more than a million books, including 128 volumes printed before 1501, the library is encased in a metal filigree facade.

The 10-level library also links up with the adjoining Birmingham Repertory Theatre and has an outdoor amphitheatre providing a performance space for music, drama and poetry readings.

Other unusual features include two garden terraces on the third and seventh floors designed to provide visitors with space to unwind, socialise and learn.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee