Former Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres congratulated Malala Yousufzai on Friday following the announcement that the 17-year-old Pakistani girl is co-recipient of the 2014 prize.
“The Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s decision to award Malala the prize is a worthy one,” Peres said in a statement. “She is a symbol to women and girls across the world and an example to all of us.”
“Malala, you defeated those who tried to silence you and your victory is a victory for peace — we are all proud of you,” Israel’s ex-president said, referring to the Taliban extremists who shot her in October 2012.
Yousafzai, a Pakistani, and Kailash Satyarthi of India won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for risking their lives to fight for children’s rights. The decision made Malala, a 17-year-old student and education activist, the youngest-ever Nobel winner.
The news set off celebrations on the streets of Mingora, the main town in Pakistan’s volatile Swat Valley, with residents greeting each other and distributing sweets. At the town’s Khushal Public School, which is owned by Malala’s father, students danced in celebration Friday, jumping up and down.
When she was a student there, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago for insisting that girls as well as boys have the right to an education. Surviving several operations with the help of British medical care, she continued both her activism and her studies.
Appropriately, Malala was at school Friday in the central English city of Birmingham at the time of the Nobel announcement and was expected to make a statement later in the day.
Yousafzai was also hailed as the “pride of Pakistan” by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, as a former fellow pupil said the award was a victory for every girl in the country.
“She is (the) pride of Pakistan. She has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequalled. Girls and boys of the world should take the lead from her struggle and commitment,” Sharif’s office said in a statement.
AFP and AP contributed to this report.