A young Mexican asylum seeker interrupted what should have been Malala Yousafzai’s shining moment while receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, but the Pakistani laureate is not angry with him.
The youngest person to receive the coveted award said Thursday she sympathizes with the 21-year-old because his actions indicate, “There are problems in Mexico.”
Although officials did not name the Mexican protester, he was identified by his brother as Adán Cortés, a college student from Mexico City.
Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman, said young people the world over face problems.
"As (he) was from Mexico, so there are problems in Mexico," she said after meeting Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. "There are problems even in America, even here in Norway, and it is really important that children raise their voices."
And she brushed off questions about whether she became afraid when the man jumped on stage.
"If I don't get scared at anything else why would I get scared of this," she said, laughing. "There was nothing to be scared of."
During the award ceremony on Wednesday, Cortés jumped onstage waving a Mexican flag while Malala looked on in confusion.
According to Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, Cortés had earlier shaken the Nobel winner’s hand, telling her how much he admired her.
“Please, Malala, talk about Mexico,” he was reportedly heard telling her.
Cortés’ intention was to highlight the ongoing case of missing Mexican college students from Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero, his brother told the Associated Press in Mexico.
Austin Cortés said his brother had called him Tuesday to tell him he planned to interrupt the ceremony, “to demand peace in Mexico and that the authorities become responsible for the disappearance and possible murder of the students in Ayotzinapa.”
He said he asked his brother not to do anything violent or radical.
“He knew that if he protested in Norway and not Mexico he would be safer. He is afraid he will be deported back to Mexico,” Austin Cortés said. “He knows that after this action, the ‘narco-government’ of Mexico can use violence and intimidation.”
After the interruption, Adán Cortés was quickly detained by security in the building and escorted out of the ceremony. Oslo police said he was fined 15,000 kroner ($2,100) for disturbing the peace and was sent to an asylum center.
In a Facebook post on Thursday morning, his brother wrote that "an angel, someone who remains anonymous" had paid the fine.
"Now he is located in the department of migration where Norway is considering his request for political asylum. There is hope. Up and forward!" Austin Cortés wrote.
Adán Cortés is studying international relations at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) and had been in Norway on vacation.
Malala, the survivor of a Taliban shooting attack, shared the Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi of India on Wednesday for risking their lives to protect children's rights.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.