Meet Malala Yousafazi.
Who is Malala?” shouted the Taliban gunman who leapt onto a crowded bus in northwestern Pakistan two years ago, then fired a bullet into the head of Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old schoolgirl and outspoken activist.
That question has been answered many times since by Ms. Yousafzai herself, who survived her injuries and went on to become an impassioned advocate, global celebrity and, on Friday, the latest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize alongside the Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi.
Yet since that decisive gunshot in October 2012, Ms. Yousafzai and her compelling story have been reshaped by a range of powerful forces — often, though not always, for good — in ways that have left her straddling perilous fault lines of culture, politics and religion.
In Pakistan, conservatives assailed the schoolgirl as an unwitting pawn in an American-led assault. In the West, she came to embody the excesses of violent Islam, or was recruited by campaigners to raise money and awareness for their causes. Ms. Yousafzai, guided by her father and a public relations team, helped to transform that image herself, co-writing a best-selling memoir.
And now the Nobel Prize committee has provided a fresh twist on her story, recasting her as an envoy for South Asian peace.
Announcing the prize in Oslo on Friday, the committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, said it was important for “a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism” — a resonant message in a week in which the Pakistani and Indian armies have exchanged shellfire across a disputed stretch of border, killing 20 villagers. But it was also a message that highlighted how far Ms. Yousafzai has come from her original incarnation as the schoolgirl who defied the Taliban and lived to tell the tale.