Rhetorical devices

References and allusions

Malala Yousafzai’s speech contains several allusions and references which help her give context to her speech and enhance her message.

References to Allah, Mohammad and the Quran help Yousafzai affirm her Muslim faith and suggest that the Taliban goes against Islam ’s core teachings. Allusions to the Taliban help give the audience the necessary context to understand how Yousafzai’s life changed after Taliban occupation: “When I was in Swat, which was a place of tourism and beauty, it suddenly changed into a place of terrorism”. Yousafzai names the Taliban only once in her speech, suggesting that she does not want to audience to focus on the terrorist group. 

Yousafzai also alludes to the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. She also references Nigeria and another militant Islamic group, Boko Haram, to further illustrate the hardship that people (especially women and girls) go through in other parts of the world: “And my sister Amina, from the North of Nigeria, where Boko Haram threatens, and stops girls and even kidnaps girls, just for wanting to go to school.”

References to the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals help Yousafzai frame the fight for equal rights and children’s education in a larger political context, and emphasize that world leaders can take immediate action for positive change. Yousafzai also references breakthroughs such as the moon landing to draw attention to the fact that, in a world where such progress is possible, it should also be possible to p...

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