JK Rowling honours Malala Yousafzai at Book Festival

J.K. Rowling and Malala Yousafzai at Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture: PA
J.K. Rowling and Malala Yousafzai at Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture: PA
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BEST-SELLING author JK Rowling made a surprise Edinburgh Festival appearance - in honour of the Pakistani teenager who survived being shot in the head by the Taleban for speaking up for the right of girls to be educated.

Harry Potter’s creator thrilled almost 600 schoolchildren with her unexpected introduction for the sold-out appearance in the city by the 17-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai.

She has campaigned around the world and attracted a huge international following since recovering from an attack on her school bus two years ago.

The teenager had already come to prominence after anonymously writing a blog for the BBC about life under the Taleban, in which she condemned a ban on girls in her native Swat Valley from attending school.

High school pupils from Scotland had flocked to Charlotte Square for the talk by Malala, which had been sold out for months in advance.

The brief appearance by Ms Rowling her the first time she had been at the book festival since 2004, when she was promoting

Ms Rowling said: “Malala is an inspiration to girls and women all over the world. It is a real honour for me to introduce her.”

Speaking at the event, Malala said: “My story is the story of thousands of children from around the world. I hope it inspires others to stand up for their rights.

“If we want to see the next big change (of every child going to school) we need to become the change ourselves and bring the change.”

Malala was travelling with a group of friends in October 12 when their bus was flagged down and she was shot by a gunman who had demanded to know: “Who is Malala?” However the then 15-year-old was flown to Britain for life-saving treatment and was discharged from hospital less than three months later.