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Thu Apr 24 03:29:03 SAST 2014

Heroic schoolgirl Malala up for Nobel Peace Prize

Sapa-AFP | 05 March, 2013 00:14
Malala Yousafzai leaves Hospital
Malala Yousafzai says goodbye to nurses as she leaves the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The Pakistani schoolgirl activist who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen has been discharged today from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham as an inpatient.
Image by: Handout / Getty Images

The Pakistani schoolgirl who became an international heroine in the fight against Taliban oppression, Malala Yousafzai, is in the running for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Institute announced a record 259 nominations yesterday .

This year's list of candidates is made up of 209 individuals and 50 organisations, the Nobel Institute said, without disclosing any of the names in line with its rules.

The list of nominees is kept secret for 50 years. But thousands of people are eligible to nominate candidates - including former laureates, politicians and members of certain international organisations - and they can reveal the names they have put forward.

Fifteen-year-old Yousafzai, who was seriously wounded when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at point blank range on October 9 last year for promoting girls' right to education in Pakistan, is known to be on the list and is seen by some experts as a favourite.

"She is a candidate who embodies several causes: the rights of girls and women, education, youth, and the fight against extremism," said prize observer Kristian Berg Harpviken, the head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo.

But her young age could work against her, others suggested.

"It would be too much of a burden for her," said Atle Sveen, a historian who specialises in the Nobel Peace Prize.

"She's much too young, even though the reasons to honour her are easy to understand.

"Linna Ben Mhenni [a Tunisian blogger who was mentioned as a possible winner in 2011 when she was 27] almost cracked from nerves when she was nominated.

"And [Malala] could become an even bigger target for fanatic Islamists," he said.

The 2013 laureate will be announced in early October and awarded on December 10.

Other names known to be on the list are Burma's reformist President Thein Sein and Coptic Christian Maggie Gobran - dubbed Egypt's "Mother Teresa" for her work to help the poor in Cairo's slums.

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