‘A friend to me’ – Afghan girls inspired by Anne Frank’s diary

Despite a Taliban ban on female education, a secret book club of Afghan girls draws encouragement from Anne Frank.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Afghan girls in a secret book club, who are covertly, continuing their academic pursuits despite a Taliban ban on female education, have found inspiration in an unlikely historical figure: Anne Frank.

“I think Anne Frank is like, as a friend for me,” Arzou, a participant in the book club, told National Public Radio. Arzou was was only identified by her first name due to the potential of Taliban retribution.

She added that “something is in common with me and Anne Frank. “We are both the victims of war. I mean, Anne Frank is suffering from war and I am too. And Anne Frank cannot go to school, cannot, like go out very freely. And I have the same situation.”

Arzou and the other girls in the group are members of the Hazara ethnic group, a minority in Afghanistan that has seen repeated massacres and intense persecution at the hands of the Taliban.

However, Arzou acknowledged that she believed that Frank’s situation was “harder than ours. They cannot go out, and every minute they are thinking of being free, but in the end, they even die.”

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Masouma, who told NPR that she “loved the whole book,” said that she and other girls could relate to the feeling of being in hiding.

She and several other friends had continued secretly attending school, despite a Taliban order forbidding them from doing so.

However, after the school’s principal feared that the Taliban would find out about the female students, he banned them from returning to the campus.

“The girls were all crying,” Masouma said. “My sister is still traumatized and now she doesn’t want to try to get an education.”

Zahra, another book club participant, said that she and the other girls in the group were inspired by Frank’s “resistance,” despite her ultimate tragic fate.

“Right now, the Taliban are in power,” Zahra told NPR.

“One day, they will be gone. Maybe people will forget what they did to girls like me.”