A student holds an image of Malala Yousufzai, who was shot on Tuesday by the Taliban, during a rally in Lahore October 14, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/MOHSIN RAZA
TORONTO -- When Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah created an online petition on Change.org to nominate Malala Yousufzai for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, he did not imagine the support it would generate from Canadian politicians and even a federal minister.
Yousafzai, 15, is in hospital in England after she survived being shot in the head by the Taliban on Oct. 9 for advocating education rights for young women in her hometown of Swat, Pakistan. Her family was also threatened for supporting her work.
"I did it primarily to raise some awareness about the girl, but I had no clue I'd trigger such a huge level of support," he said Tuesday, three days after the petition launched.
With over 19,000 signatures, Fatah called for a politician to spearhead the nomination and by Tuesday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney came on board. In a letter addressed to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Kenney calls Malala a "symbol of hope and resistance" for millions of girls around the world.
"I believe that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai will ... also send a clear message from the international community to the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to other fundamentalist regimes and their sympathizers everywhere: the world is watching them and is appalled by what it sees," he wrote.
Interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae also supports the petition, tweeting Tuesday: "I am nominating Malala Yusufzai for the Nobel Peace Prize. We need to do all possible to champion this brave advocate for equality."
Fatah originally set out to get 100 signatures. One of his first supporters was renowned public thinker Prof. Richard Dawkins.
"I'm overwhelmed by the sheer goodness there is out there," Fatah said.
Change.org spokesman Jordy Gold says the petition generated over 8,300 signatures from Canada and 224 from Pakistan, as well as thousands more worldwide.
"We don't take positions on campaigns ... but Malala is such a truly incredible person," Gold said.
As for the man who began the petition, Fatah said, "If Malala can bring the Liberals and Conservatives on the same wavelength, maybe there is still hope."
Supporters can sign the petition at Change.org/Malala.