• Joanne Jacobs

Reading 'Anne Frank' in Kabul

A secret book club for teen-age girls in Kabul, Afghanistan is reading The Diary of Anne Frank, reports Diaa Hadid for NPR.

"Banned from high school, told to cover up and stay home," the Muslim girls identify with the Jewish girl "also forced to live her life in secret," writes Hadid.


"She had hope. She was fighting. She was studying. She was resisting her fate," said Zahra. She hopes to write a book telling the world about life for girls under the Taliban.


Volunteers set up the club, which reads and discusses classics of Persian and Western literature translated into Farsi.


The girls are Hazaras, a persecuted minority. Nearly all "have survived suicide bombings," and some have lost family and friends, writes Hadid. The club's facilitators, also Hazara, have chosen books showing how other minorities have coped with persecution.


"I think Anne Frank is like, as a friend for me," said Arzou, 17, who's given up her dream of going to college abroad to study computer science.


"I loved the whole book. It was like a friend of mine telling me her pain, her stories. When she called her diary Kitty, I smiled and I imagined that I was Kitty, and that we are best friends," said Masouma, also 17.


By the way, I recommend Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran about a secret book club devoted to forbidden Western literature.

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