People who shook the world in 2013

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Reuters

Pope Francis. File picture: Stefano Rellandini

London - They may not all have grabbed the most headlines or been the biggest movers and shakers of 2013, but these 10 people represent a shift, somehow, in our world. Here are AFP’s People of the Year for 2013...

EDWARD SNOWDEN

From the most anonymous of Internet users to Angela Merkel on her mobile phone, Snowden's stunning revelations showed us that someone, somewhere is probably listening in.

His leaks of classified US intelligence data unleashed a world-wide debate on privacy and left world leaders squirming with embarrassment and indignation.

Labelled both a traitor and a champion of civil liberties, the 30-year-old, who fled to Russia, has blown open the debate on privacy and spying.

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Malala Yousafzai. File picture: Jessica Rinaldi

Associated Press

HASSAN ROUHANI

Crippled by economic sanctions, Iran is opening up to the world once more, even playing nicely with the Americans.

Leading the country out of its decades of isolation is the moderate and pragmatic Rouhani, the benign-looking face of an image overhaul that has seen the country crack open the doors shielding its feared nuclear programme and soften towards its Western foes, threatening to shift the region's delicate power balance.

MALALA YOUSAFZAI

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Edward Snowden. File picture: The Guardian / Reuters

Reuters

Malala was just 15 when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on her school bus, bringing home the day-to-day violence in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The shooting also introduced us to a young woman credited with exceptional bravery. Recovering from live-saving surgery in Britain, Malala used the international spotlight to bring to global attention the cause of education for women and girls in her troubled region.

POPE FRANCIS

The first time the little-known Argentinian appeared on the balcony at St Peter's on March 13, it was a shock that this was the man chosen to be the new pope. And the surprises have not stopped coming.

A pope unlike any other, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is using his skill as a communicator and his image as a man close to ordinary people to rehabilitate the battered image of Catholicism, addressing some of the thorny issues his predecessors had preferred to avoid, speaking out on world affairs and giving the Church a relevance and shine that is not only reversing its plummeting popularity but also winning over new followers.

BEN AINSLIE

The finest moments in sport are often about overcoming insurmountable odds to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Team Oracle USA were staring at an Americas Cup humiliation when four-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie was brought onboard as a replacement tactician. What happened next was astonishing.

Ainslie masterminded eight unanswered victories over Team New Zealand to seal one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time and ensure the unfashionable and technical sport of yachting had a brief but uplifting moment in the spotlight.

ADELE EXARCHOPOULOS

Playing a schoolgirl who falls in love with another woman, the young French actress brought a flush of emotion to the Cannes Film Festival where La Vie Of Adele, called Blue Is The Warmest Colour in English, won the top honour. But the production by director Abdelatif Kechiche is not another film addressing homosexuality: it is just a love story - a sign of the times as gay couples in Europe and America win more rights and move into the mainstream.

EVAN SPIEGEL

This 23-year-old American's rejection of Facebook's $3-billion cash offer for his mobile messaging service Snapchat, on which messages and photos self-destruct after being viewed, speaks of the confidence underpinning the social media phenomenon that is blistering through society and saw Twitter make a barn-storming entry onto the Nasdaq.

JAMES FOLEY

Slowly but inexorably the independent voices emanating from inside Syria disappeared as rebels linked to al-Qaeda gained a stranglehold on large parts of opposition-held areas and the regime showed no sign of compromise.

Reports of threats, intimidation, kidnappings and killings of journalists intensified throughout 2013. AFP contributor James Foley was among an estimated 30 reporters kidnapped.

CAMILA VALLEJO

The photogenic face of the wave of protest sweeping Latin America the past few years, the 25-year-old Vallejo entered the Chilean parliament this year as a Communist deputy, taking to another level the populist causes she has long inspired.

Behind Chile's leader-in-waiting Michelle Bachelet and Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, she joins a growing band of women taking up power in the region and challenging its macho image.

PRINCE GEORGE

The fervour around the birth of Prince George in July illustrated the enduring popularity of Britain's royalty and was an essential chapter in the fairytale around his parents, William and Kate.

It extended the afterglow of the country's successful Olympic Games. - AFP


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