• Six-year-old Zari has been introduced to audiences in Afghanistan (Twitter)Source: Twitter
Zari made her debut on the popular children's show last week but her reception on Twitter hasn't all been positive.
Bianca Soldani

12 Apr 2016 - 10:14 AM  UPDATED 12 Apr 2016 - 10:14 AM

She was created with the intention of being a revolutionary figure of female empowerment in a nation where the future of many young girls is grim to say the least.

But some in the deep, dark corners of the Twitter-sphere have reacted with messages of anger and hate against Sesame Street’s newest member, Afghan school-girl Zari.

Deeply conservative users are throwing culturally and racially insensitive remarks at the puppet and her creators after she made her debut on the locally produced version of the show, Baghch-e-Simsim, last week.

One person said, “Muppet Zari isn't allowed to drive a car or go to school, but being married off at the age of 12 should be fun!”

Another commented, “I can't wait to see other Muppets stone Zari to death,” while others asked, “Does she come with a suicide vest?” and “Does she explode in a market?”

Six-year-old Zari, who wears clothes specially designed for her, will be involved in educational segments that explore female empowerment and education, national identity, health and well-being.

The show is the most watched children’s program in the country with a massive 81 percent market share, making creators positive she could have an impact on young people's lives and perhaps even their parents' mentality.

Sherrie Westin from Sesame Workshop told Reuters it was “so powerful that the first Afghan Muppet is a girl”. “The exciting part about Zari is that she is modelling for young girls that it is wonderful to go to school and that it's ok to dream about having a career.”

It is estimated that around one third of young girls are not attending primary school in Afghanistan and according to the UN, illiteracy rates among women are as high as 87 percent. Afghanistan’s education ministry was consulted during the puppet’s creation to try and reduce any cultural resistance to her.