Kabul, Afghanistan – They said she burned pages of the Qur’an. Her father said it wasn’t possible. But a mob of male attackers hit her with a stick, hauled her up to a roof, beat her to death, and then set her on fire because of the allegation. Then they pitched her body into the river. No evidence was found that she ever burned the Qur’an. 26 men have been arrested for the murder.
The funeral was an historic event in Afghanistan, as women carried her coffin high on their shoulders. Women do not carry coffins in Afghanistan- only men. Perhaps it was an act of defiance, perhaps it was just grief. But many in Kabul said they had never seen such a sight before.
The crowd began to chant, “Kabul police officials should be fired” as the coffin passed by. And there was sound reason for that sentiment.
Farkhunda, 27, had confronted a local Mullah for distributing “false Tawiz” – small pieces of paper with Quranic verses on them. The papers are often worn as a talisman to ward off evil. Since she was a teacher of the Qur’an, she would have known if his papers were not genuine words from the book.
Immediately to save his own skin, he began crying out that she had burned the Qur’an. Early reports stated that she was mentally ill. A mob formed, hauled her into the street, beat her unmercifully, set her on fire, and pitched her over a bridge. The police did nothing. They watched.
“We were asking the people to stop beating her and let us ask what religion she belongs to. But the people didn’t listen to us and kept beating her.” A witness
Investigating the police
Afghanistan Human Rights Watch said they were interested in how the investigation into the police who failed to intervene was progressing. Thirteen police officials have been arrested over the attack. A total of 26 men are being held from the incident.
“We’re very interested particularly to see what happens in terms of the investigation of the police behavior. 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.” Patricia Grossman, Human Rights Watch researcher
Violence against women in Afghanistan has been termed “rampant” by Human Rights groups. This one has gained attention worldwide. But until Islamic leaders do more than pay lip service to these actions, there will be no reprieve for women in Muslim countries.
“I don’t want blood of my daughter go in vain.” Nadir, Farkhunda’s father
Warning this video contains graphic images