Supporters in Malala’s hometown celebrate Nobel win

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Hundreds of supporters in Malala Yousafzai’s hometown cheered as they watched their heroine accept her Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday on a giant TV.

Students, activists and teachers gathered in a school hall in Swat Valley’s main town of Mingora to watch the ceremony, chanting “Long live Malala” and continuing to give her a standing ovation for several minutes.

Security was tight around the town, as soldiers and police patrolled the streets and conducted searches on every vehicle entering and leaving.

At the ceremony, residents distributed sweets among themselves — a traditional form of celebration — in front of giant banners reading “You are the pride of Pakistan” and “Congratulations Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai”.

But one of the event’s organisers, Ahmad Shah, admitted that the turnout was relatively muted because some residents “have spread a negative image of Malala”.

Most government and private schools in Swat began the day with prayers and well wishes for Malala.

Adina Ali, an 11-year-old student, said that she was inspired by Malala’s struggle.

“Malala raised her voice for education at a time when girls’ education was banned,” Ali said.

“It is because Malala received a Taliban bullet in her head that the girls of Swat are going to school.”

Though Wednesday’s ceremony was fairly low-key, organiser Ahmad Shah said most people silently supported her cause.

“Some people are jealous that a girl from a conservative society has risen up and they are not accepting it,” he said.

“But we know that the silent majority are with Malala, they like her and support her.”