London: Thousands of people gathered for a memorial event in London’s Trafalgar Square on Wednesday in remembrance of Jo Cox, the Labour MP murdered in her constituency a week ago.
There were speeches and readings from Cox’s friends and family, as well as musical tributes from Lily Allen and Bono of U2, who knew Cox through her charity work. Similar events were held in cities around the world to celebrate Cox’s internationalist outlook yesterday, which would have been her 42nd birthday.
Girls’ rights champion and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, 18, was also one of the speakers at the London event. Malala – who narrowly survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for the right for girls to go to school – knows firsthand the dangers activists can face in just trying to do their jobs.
Her heartfelt words were applauded and cheered at various points by the crowd. Here’s what she had to say:
“One thing that you may not realise that I have in common with Jo, that we both are very proud of, is that we are small. Sometimes too small to see over podiums. But she showed us all that you can be small and still be a giant. And that’s what Jo was – a giant.
She proved that she was a giant when she stood up to declare that we have more in common than that which divides us. For her, the idea was much more than just a line in a speech, it was a sacred principle that powered her life and her work.
When my family needed a haven, this country offered it with open arms. Jo’s arms were open to all humanity. She embodied all that was best about this country. She used her voice to speak up for those who are voiceless. She used her voice, and she used her life, to fight for those who are forgotten. And she taught us that we cannot bring peace by turning our backs on each other.”
Malala also personally addressed Cox’s widower Brendan and their two small children. “I know nothing can erase the pain you feel now but please know that you do not face it alone. Jo meant so much to so many of us and so many people around the world. …Jo’s message of peace is more powerful than any weapon of war and once again proves that the extremists have failed.”