Afghan protesters demand justice for woman attacked and killed by Kabul mob

Hundreds marched Monday in the Afghan capital, demanding justice for a woman beaten to death last week by a Kabul mob over false allegations she had burned a Qur’an — a vicious killing that shocked many Afghans and renewed calls for authorities to ensure women’s rights to equality and protection from violence.

KABUL — Hundreds marched Monday in the Afghan capital, demanding justice for a woman beaten to death last week by a Kabul mob over false allegations she had burned a Qur’an — a vicious killing that shocked many Afghans and renewed calls for authorities to ensure women’s rights to equality and protection from violence.

The killing has also drawn condemnation from Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, now in Washington on his first state visit to the United States since taking office in September, who denounced it as a “heinous attack” and ordered an investigation.

On Thursday, a mob of men beat a 27-year-old religious scholar named Farkhunda to death, threw her body off a roof, ran over it with a car, set it on fire and at the end, threw it into the Kabul River near one of the Afghan capital’s most renowned mosques, the Shah Doshamshera.

The attack was captured by cellphone cameras and has been widely distributed on social media.

Farkhunda, who like many Afghans had just one name, was buried amid a huge public outcry on Sunday, her coffin carried by women’s activists who defied the tradition of men-only pallbearers and funerals.

Protesters who gathered near the Shah Doshamshera mosque on Monday demanded the government prosecute all those responsible for the death.

Kabul’s police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said 18 people had been arrested and all had confessed to their role in Farkhunda’s death.

“We have enough evidence” against the suspects, he announced at a press conference as the 18 were brought out before the media. He said 13 policemen based in the area of the mosque had been suspended amid allegations they stood by and did nothing to stop the attack, and another four were under investigation.

One of the policemen who witnessed the attack, Sayed Habid Shah, said they were overwhelmed by the size of the crowd, which grew throughout the assault.

It all started when Farkhunda and a fortune teller at a small shrine next to the mosque began arguing and the fortune teller accused her of burning the Qur’an, Shah said.

“She said, ’I am a Muslim and Muslims do not burn the Qur’an,”’ Shah, who has not been suspended, told The Associated Press. “As more people gathered, the police were trying to push them away, but it got out of control.”

“The people pulled her into a corner of the yard and beat her with sticks, and one man took a large stone and dropped it on her. That was the end,” Shah said.

Farkhunda’s body was then dragged 300 metres (980 feet) along the road in front of the mosque and thrown into the river, he added.

Social activists on Monday planted a pine tree on the riverbank spot where Farkhunda’s body was set alight. The demonstrators, many of them members of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan, blocked the road outside the mosque and marched along the riverside route, starting from where the attack began.

Many women in the crowd wore masks of Farkhunda’s battered and bloodied face, which has appeared widely on social media. They carried a banner accusing the government of breaking promises to end corruption and bring rule of law to Afghanistan.

“We demand that the government ensure that all those involved are arrested and that they face an open trial so that justice is implemented and they become an example for others,” said Palwasha, who described herself as a social activist:

Activist and film director Sahraa Karimi said she was disappointed that unlike Ghani, the president’s wife, Rula, has not yet spoken about the killing.

“This is typical of the women in positions of influence in Afghanistan,” Karimi said. “How can they be our representatives?”

Activists have promised daily protests throughout the week to maintain pressure on the authorities to act to curb violence against women.

“That people are comfortable being filmed while committing a murder like this in daylight is a symptom of the culture of impunity,” said activist Ramin Anwari, citing cellphone footage of the attack on Farkhunda.

Also on Monday, five teenage boys were killed and another six injured when explosives attached to a bicycle were detonated during a football match in southern Ghazni province, according to the deputy governor Mohammad Ali Ahmadi.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels allowed four straight goals from the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night on the road. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers hand Red Deer Rebels 10th straight loss

Tigers 4 Rebels 2 Through 17 games in the shortened WHL season,… Continue reading

Meghan Huizing has been selected by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools as a finalist for the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) 2021 Edwin Parr Award. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools)
Red Deer Catholic names finalist for Edwin Parr Award

Meghan Huizing from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds has… Continue reading

GrammaLink-Africa members are participating in the Stride to Turn the Tide campaign until June 30. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer group walking to raise money for African grandmothers

A group of central Albertans will be walking every day until the… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau announces donation to Duke of Edinburgh’s award ahead of funeral

Canada will donate $200,000 to the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award as… Continue reading

Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science) Will Amos responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. The Liberal MP who inadvertently flashed his parliamentary colleagues says the fact that a screenshot of him in the nude was leaked to the media sends a troubling message about the corrosive state of politics in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
Canada’s naked MP speaks out: leaked photo sends message ‘anything goes’ in politics

OTTAWA — The Liberal MP who inadvertently flashed his parliamentary colleagues says… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $10 million jackpot… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Canada’s self-esteem needs Trump

Well, it was fun while it lasted. For four years, with Donald… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Shenanigans on the links

It must be something about my Scottish heritage but I seem to… Continue reading

Muskrats can occupy any wetland that is shallow enough to permit the growth of their aquatic food.
Pearman: Muskrats numbers rebounding in central Alberta

I have spent many pleasant hours muskrat watching. Time spent in the… Continue reading

Most Read