As the world prepared to mark "Malala Day" on Saturday to support the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for promoting girls' education, security fears in her hometown meant her schoolmates could not honour her in public.
Taliban hitmen shot Malala Yousafzai on her school bus
a month ago in Mingora in the Swat Valley in a cold-blooded murder attempt for the "crime" of campaigning for girls' right to go to school.
Miraculously, the 15-year-old survived and her courage has won the hearts of millions around the world, prompting the UN to declare Saturday a "global day of action" for her.
People around the globe are expected to hold vigils and demonstrations honouring Malala and calling for the 32 million girls worldwide who are denied education to be allowed to go to school.
But in Mingora, the threat of further Taliban reprisals casts a fearful shadow, and students at Malala's Khushhal Public School were forced to honour her in private.
"We held a special prayer for Malala in our school assembly and also lit candles," school principal Mariam Khalid told AFP.
"We did not organise any open event because our school and its students still face a security threat."
Despite the dangers, some children in Mingora were determined to speak out.
"Malala is a good friend of mine. She is brave and has honour and whoever attacked her did a terrible thing," Asma Khan, 12, a student in Saroosh Academy, close to Malala's school told AFP.
"After the attack on her and her injuries, we have now more courage to study and now we will fulfil her mission to spread education everywhere."
Khan's schoolmate Gul Para, 12, added: "Malala is the daughter of the nation and we are proud of her.
"She has stood by us and for our education up to now and now it is time that we should stand by her and complete her mission."
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.