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How Bono's cultural blunder left Malala unimpressed


Malala with Bono at the Amnesty event last month

Malala with Bono at the Amnesty event last month

Malala with Bono at the Amnesty event last month

HE travels the world pressing the flesh with religious leaders and political giants. But it seems that even Bono is not immune from committing a cultural faux pas at times.

The musician and activist made a social blunder when he met Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai last month.

Malala, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban last year for campaigning for girls' education, was honoured by Amnesty International in Dublin in September.

The schoolgirl was made an Amnesty International ambassador along with Harry Belafonte and the award was presented by Bono.

But in an interview with 'The Sunday Times', the young education rights activist revealed an awkward moment – when Bono took her by the hands.

"That's totally against our culture," she said.

Her father agreed and laughed: "I can protect you against the Taliban, my dear, but not from Bono."

She also said she was bemused by Bono's trademark style. "Can you imagine – he was wearing sunglasses at night," she said.

President of the Pakistan Welfare and Cultural Association of Ireland, Shaheen Ahmed, said Malala was making a joke about the encounter.

He said where she was from the Swat Valley in Pakistan, a woman would not shake hands with a man.

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"A girl shaking hands with some man, it is not possible in the society and culture where she comes from," he said.

"That's what she is referring to, and making a joke of it."

Apparently unaware of his faux pas at the event, Bono praised the teenager for her bravery and determination.

"Tonight we're not standing. We're not standing because we're floored. We're floored because we're in the presence of this once-in-a-century kind of courage."

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