What if Anne Frank was Muslim?

Ten years ago, a 26-year-old Turkish Muslim woman, Asli Bayram, portrayed Anne Frank on stage in Frankfurt, Germany.

When Asli was 14, a neo-Nazi neighbor broke into the family’s apartment in Germany and shot Asli’s father right in front of her. The neighbor also shot and injured Asli.

Asli recovered from her injuries. She went on to study law and, later on, acting. She starred in movies, television, and in 2008, she performed in a one-woman show about Anne Frank.

Asli Bayram as Anne Frank

She said that she read The Diary of Anne Frank in high school. To prepare for the role, she visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and studied the Holocaust and World War II in depth. “I want to prevent such horrible deeds and combat this radical, destructive ideology through my work as an actress,” she said to a reporter ten years ago.

Today, unlike in 2008, Muslims are widely vilified in Germany. And Anne Frank’s experience could easily be the experience of Muslims today in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden – or here in the United States.

From travel bans on people from Muslim-majority countries to outright vilification of people of Muslim faith and of Islam itself, this is a terrible time to be a Muslim in the United States or, in fact, in most of the Western world.

It’s just like being a Jew during the 1930s in Europe.

Through Asli’s brave performance, Anne Frank became a Muslim in Frankfurt. Actually, Anne Frank is here, today, in our own communities. Reach out. Stand up for Asli. Stand up for Anne Frank.

Ellen J. Kennedy, Ph.D., is the executive director of World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul.  In 2009 she received the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Anne Frank Center in New York.

Don’t miss a special lecture this Wednesday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Dr. Kennedy will be joined by Fred Amram, speaking about how the Nazi movement changed laws at every level to make their actions legal and Germany and highlight recent and proposed law changes that pave the way to legal discrimination. Fred is a Holocaust survivor and will share part of his story. Click here for More Information.


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