DETROIT — Sesame Street has welcomed a purple-toned female Muppet with multi-colored yarn hair — and sometimes a hijab — into its cast of colorful characters.

Zari is an eager 6-year-old from Afghanistan who will focus on girls’ empowerment, health and emotional well-being, the production company said.

The character will be appearing regularly on "Baghch-e-Simsim" (“Sesame Garden”) — a Sesame Workshop children’s series that’s been on the air in Afghanistan since December of 2011.

Dawud Walid, Executive Director for the Council of Arab Islamic Relations (CAIR) told CBS Detroit that American producers of the series should consider featuring Zari.

“The younger ages are actually the most important, more so than the adults. This is when the world view develops,” Walid told CBS Detroit. “If younger people are exposed to other cultures at an early age, it is more likely to inoculate them, or vaccinate them, against Islamophobia.”

Zari is the latest a lineup of international characters, which has also included Mexican, German and Egyptian Muppets, to name a few. 

Although a Muppet’s religion is not typically discussed, it’s been stated that Zari is Afghani, and Afghanistan has a Muslim population close to 100 percent.

—CBS Detroit

(This article was originally published on NewAmericaMedia.org and is reprinted here with permission from the author.)

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