Malala Yousafzai: "I am heartbroken" over Trump's executive order targeting Muslims

AP

Human rights activist Malala Yousafzai has issued a searing rebuke of President Donald Trump, following the president's signing of an executive order targeting Muslim immigrants and refugees from entering the United States.

"I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war," Yousafzai, 19, said in the statement released Friday. "I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants  — the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life."

Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate who rose to international prominence as a defiant voice advocating for education of girls globally, said she took especial offense to the idea that children from war-torn nations like Syria were being singled out. Trump's policy blocks most refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, while also suspending Syria refugees indefinitely.

Malala Yousafzai, right, attends a conference on supporting Syrian refugees in 2016.  WPA Pool/Getty Images

"I am heartbroken for girls like my friend Zaynab, who fled wars in three countries — Somalia, Yemen and Egypt — before she was even 17," Yousafzai said in the statement. "Zaynab was separated from her little sister when she fled unrest in Egypt. Today her hope of being reunited with her precious sister dims."

While many critics of Trump have blasted him for engaging in bigotry and anti-Muslim rhetoric to stoke fears, Yousafzai has called on the president to think of the impact his policy has on children.

"In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world's most defenseless children and families," she said.