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16 October 2012

A prayer for Malala

A prayer for Malala

The Evangelical Alliance is encouraging people to pray for a 14-year-old girl who was shot by the Taliban last week for speaking out against the banning of girls from school.

Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan is currently receiving medical treatment in Birmingham after the gun attack last week.

Malala and two other schoolgirls were attacked on their way home from school in Mingora in the Swat Valley last Tuesday.

The 14-year-old has become known as a campaigner for girls' education after writing a diary for BBC Urdu about what it was like living under the Taliban regime which banned girls from going to school.

The Taliban said they had targeted her for "promoting secularism".

Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, welcomed Malala's arrival in Britain for treatment.

She arrived on board an air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates and is being treated at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham.

Mr Murad said: "The horrific attack on Malala Yousafzai is to be condemned, and has rightly been done so by Pakistan's responsible political and religious leaders.

"Malala's case also tells us that violence, and political violence in particular, has been an everyday fact for Pakistanis. Each day we hear of an outrage: whether it be for sectarian, religious or political. This is compounded by the onset of US military drones that have cost the lives of so many innocent lives. All of this must stop. If we are to seek an effective strategy to ensure that Malala's attackers do not prevail, we must all find ways to assist Pakistanis to take violence out of Pakistani politics and civil society."

Michelle Bachelet, executive director of UN Women, also condemned the attacks, which happened a few days before the first International Day of the Girl Child.

She said: "This attack is an attack against all people in the world who believe in human dignity and respect for all. UN Women joins the government and people of Pakistan and many others worldwide in recognising Malala for her courage and determination to stand up for the rights of girls and women."

"As the world observes the first International Day of the Girl Child, I stress the urgent need to promote and protect the rights of girls around the world. Every girl, no matter where she is born, should be able to express her views, live free of violence and discrimination, and have a fair chance to reach her full potential. Freedom, justice and peace are built on the recognition of the inherent dignity and equal rights of all human beings."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has expressed his sadness about the incident.

He said: "I am profoundly shocked and saddened by news of the attack on Malala Yousafzai and two other school girls in Pakistan. It is all the more shocking that she was deliberately targeted because she bravely spoke out on her love of learning and on the right of all children, girls and boys, to education.  

"Our prayers are with Malala, her family and community, as we all await the outcome of her treatment and pray that she will make a full recovery. We stand in solidarity with communities in Pakistan and around the world as we all express our horror at this terrible act of violence on a young girl and demonstrate our commitment to overcome acts of hatred with love and justice. We also stand with Malala in dedicating ourselves to delivering education for every child and in overcoming discrimination against girls in every part of the world. We must commit, by 2015, to achieving quality education for all, including the 61 million children now out of school around the world."

Fred Drummond, director of prayer and supporters at the Evangelical Alliance, has written the following prayer for Malala:

Lord of all grace, love and hope

We thank you for your tenderness towards the weak, poor, the widow and the child

You delight in drawing children to your heart

We pray, great God, for Malala

We thank you for her courage and the witness she is to a future of justice and hope

We pray that she may know your healing touch and ask that the medical staff involved in her care may know your guidance

We pray strength for her family and those who love her

Gracious God, we ask for your mercy upon all victims of violence

And we ask that the author of all peace will bring peace to our world

Amen