Oklahoma City: Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai were on Monday honored at the memorial for Oklahoma City bombing victims in US.

Speaking on the occasion, Ziauddin, a Pakistani human rights activist who founded an all-girls school, said, "Taliban was more afraid of the books than bombs."

The annual Reflections of Hope Award was given out by the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museums in honor of the 168 people who died in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

The elder Yousafzai said Pakistani citizens are all too familiar with the kind of extremism that led to the Oklahoma attack, as well as the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Marathon bombings last month. "We share the pain. We share the suffering. We have tragedies like Boston every day," he said.

He denounced the violence inflicted by Taliban insurgents who have taken the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers over the past 30 years. He said the Islamic fundamentalists advocate an "ideology of darkness" where truth is stifled and education is discouraged. "My part of the world is bleeding. I'm here to bring my people out of terrorism," he said.

The award began in 2005, and past recipients include the Rev Alex Reid of Dublin, Ireland, for his life's work in the peace process in Northern Ireland, and Durga Ghimire, who co-founded a community-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of marginalized people in Nepal.

In a video clip played during the ceremony, Malala said, "I want every girl, every child, to be educated."

Yousafzai accepted the award on his daughter's behalf during his first trip to the United States since the Taliban's assassination attempt on Malala.

Yousafzai founded the all-girls Khushal Public School 17 years ago to foster female leadership in an area where the Taliban has banned girls from attending school. His daughter also was an activist who attended the school until the Taliban shot her in the head and neck while she was riding the school bus home. The Taliban said it targeted her because she promoted girls' education and "Western thinking."


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