Afghan woman killed following accusation

By Maria Baluch

It was just two days before Nowruz, the Persian New Year celebrated by many South Asians, when a tragedy struck in Afghanistan. Farkhunda, 28-year-old woman who only goes by one name, was beaten to death on March 19 by a mob of men in Kabul after being falsely accused of burning a Quran, a crime punishable by death in Afghanistan, as reported by CNN.

Farkhunda was dragged to the streets near a mosque by a group of men, according to CNN. She was stomped on, kicked and beaten, and was ran over by a car until she was drenched in blood and barely recognizable. Her body was set on fire and thrown into a river.

The killing of Farkhunda was caught on a video that circulated on social media. The alarming video shows police officers just standing nearby and several men gathered around her.

On the video, some are seen spectating, others are filming on their cellphones.

According to TOLOnews, the incident occurred when Farkhunda went to a mullah, or cleric, at Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque to “stop him from deceiving people by writing false Tawiz,” a piece of paper with verses from the Quran that are folded and worn as a pendant on a necklace by many Muslims for protection from evil.

To save his image and his job, the cleric then accused her of burning a Quran in the mosque, resulting in the angry mob of men gathering at the mosque to get Farkhunda. These details were revealed when Vice news spoke to Farkhunda’s family. According to what the family told Vice, Farkhunda left her mathematics major at Kabul’s Education University, enrolled in an Islamic school and then applied to Kabul University’s school of Islamic studies, all the while teaching 30 students to recite the Quran.

“How could a student of religion do such a thing?” asked Najibullah, Farkhunda’s older brother, according to Vice.

Her family has turned to the government for help. Farkhunda’s mother asked the government to “ensure the safety of women who have been the victim of various types of violence for decades,” according to TOLOnews.

“I want all the judicial institutions to prosecute the perpetrators,” said Farkhunda’s father Nadir, according to TOLOnews. “I don’t want the blood of my daughter go in vain.”

Twenty-six people who took part in the brutal killing have been arrested so far, according to a statement made before parliament by Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Noorul Haq Ulumi, according to CNN.

Additionally, 13 police officials have been suspended in connection to the murder.

“That was, for us, one of the most troubling aspects of this case, that the police did not intervene adequately and properly to save her when there was an opportunity to do so,” said Patricia Grossman, Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch to CNN.

Thousands of people attended Farkhunda’s funeral on Sunday including government officials, journalists and civil society members, as reported by The Independent. Several women defied tradition and carried her casket to its resting place, which is typically done by men. Women activists also marched and chanted that they demanded justice for Farkhunda.