Popular children’s TV show Sesame Street has just introduced a new member of the Muppet family.

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Her name is Zari and she’s a six-year-old Afghan girl who wears a hijab with her school uniform and has multi-colored hair. Zari is the second new Sesame Street character in the last few months, following Julia, a Muppet with autism, who teaches children how to relate to those with a disability.

Zari is the first Afghan character to ever be featured on Sesame Street and she will be joining the cast of the Afghan spin off show Baghch-e-Simsim, which translates as ‘Sesame Garden.’ Baghch-e-Simsim is now in its fifth season and is a vital source of education for young girls growing up in Afghanistan, who don’t always have access to formal schooling simply because they are female.


The production company, Sesame Workshop, who were responsible for creating Zari, had a precise mission. They wanted to help little girls growing up in Afghanistan, which is a country that hasn’t had the most progressive reputation for promoting women’s rights. Therefore Zari tends to focus on messages of female empowerment, health and emotional wellbeing when talking to her viewers.

Throughout Sesame Street’s promotion of Zari they have used positive words like “special” and “incredible” to describe her, which is refreshing to see for a Muslim character in this climate of growing Islamophobia. Hopefully her thought-provoking messages about gender equality and her positive representation of Islam will have an impact on both Afghani children and the western world alike.

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