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Malala 'Backs Reversing College Name Change'

Agence France Presse

Malala 'Backs Reversing College Name Change'

Shot teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai has backed reversing a decision to rename a girls' college in her honour after students said the move could endanger them, an official said Friday.

Around 150 students boycotted classes and tore up pictures of Malala in protest last week at the renaming of their Government Girls Degree College Saidu Sharif after the 15-year-old, saying the move would make them a target for militants.

Malala was shot on her school bus in northwestern Swat in October by Taliban gunmen for the "crime" of promoting girls' education, but survived the murder attempt and is now recovering in hospital in Britain.

The top local government official in Swat, Kamran Rehman, told AFP he had spoken Monday by phone to Malala, whose story made headlines around the world and prompted the UN to to observe a "global day of action" for her last month.

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"Malala Yousafzai called me from Birmingham hospital and said the provincial government should revert to the old name if there are security fears among the girl students," Rehman said.

"Malala expressed concern over the dangers faced by the students after the college was renamed, saying she would not like anyone's life to be threatened."

Rehman said Malala's father Ziauddin Yousafzai, a former teacher and headmaster who has been appointed a UN adviser on education, backed her stance in the phone call.

The official said he had written to the provincial government about the matter.

Malala first rose to prominence aged just 11 with a blog for the BBC Urdu service in 2009 in which she described life in Swat during the bloody rule of the Taliban.