Thousands of protesters flood Afghan capital to demand justice over mob killing woman

Thousands marched through the Afghan capital Tuesday, demanding justice for a woman who was beaten to death by a mob after being falsely accused of burning a Qur’an.

KABUL — Thousands marched through the Afghan capital Tuesday, demanding justice for a woman who was beaten to death by a mob after being falsely accused of burning a Qur’an.

Men and women of all ages carried banners bearing the bloodied face of Farkhunda, a 27-year-old religious scholar killed last week by the mob. Farkhunda, who went by one name like many Afghans, was beaten, run over with a car and burned before her body was thrown into the Kabul River.

Organizers of Tuesday’s march — the second protest over the brutal slaying in as many days — estimated that up to 3,000 people took part, calling it one of the biggest demonstrations in Kabul’s history. Marchers chanted “Justice for Farkhunda!” and “Death to the killers!”

Amrullah Saleh, a political leader and former director of the intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, said the demonstrators sought to make Farkhanda an icon of the struggle against “injustice, mob court, street violence, violence against women, lawlessness, extremism” and, especially the injustice suffered by women.

“She is an example of probably what has happened silently to many,” Saleh told The Associated Press. “She drew a line with her blood between those who want justice, rule of law, and those who are extreme in their views and who breed in lawlessness”

The Interior Ministry said 28 people have been arrested and 13 police officers suspended as part of investigations. Also, the spokesman for the Kabul police, Hashmat Stanikzai, was fired over comments he made on social media supporting Farkhunda’s killers. Stanikzai could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Taliban issued a statement on Tuesday, condemning the attack and calling it a conspiracy that uses “the name of the Qur’an to kill innocent civilians.” It also extended condolences to Farkhunda’s family.

The demonstrators in Kabul also called for action against officials and religious leaders who had initially said that Farkhunda’s killing was justifiable if she had burned pages of a Qur’an, the Muslim holy book.

Among the crowd were prominent rights activists, including Fatana Gailani, the head of the Afghanistan Women’s Council, who said she hoped the incident would be a catalyst for change in a society traumatized by war, corruption and lack of leadership.

“The new generation has known nothing but war, they are not educated,” she said.

President Ashraf Ghani took office in September following a bitter election campaign during which he promised to champion women’s constitutional rights, end corruption and bring peace. Six months into his presidency, his Cabinet is not yet complete, economic growth is stalled after double digits in 2013, and the fight against the Taliban is in full force despite his efforts to open a dialogue with the insurgents.

Ghani’s wife and First Lady Rula, a Christian of Lebanese background, has pushed for women’s rights but has not yet spoken publicly about Farkhunda’s killing — though she is believed to have visited the woman’s family briefly before her funeral on Sunday.

Despite constitutional guarantees of equality and protection from violence, women in Afghanistan are still widely subject to violence, both privately and publicly.

Some activists say the killing has brought cohesion to civil society and unity to Afghans, appalled by the brutality of the attack.

In Kabul’s industrial suburb of Kotesangi, 33-year-old carpet seller Abdul Hamid said Farkhunda’s death has shattered the dignity of the Afghan nation.

“Everybody has a sister,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like the brutality that was brought upon this woman.”

The attack last Thursday appeared to have grown out of a dispute between Farkhunda, a veiled woman who had just finished a degree in religious studies and was preparing to take a teaching post, and men who sold amulets at Kabul’s famous Shah-Do Shamshera shrine.

Farkhuda urged women not to waste their money on the amulets, her friends and family have said. Her father, Mohammed Nadir, said the men responded by making false accusations that she had torched a Qur’an, which set off the brutal assault.

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

Just Posted

COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta (March 15 update) 
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw, accompanied by Premier Jason Kenney, gives an update on COVID-19 in Alberta. Photo by Government of Alberta
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Pothole repair and road resurfacing are among the projects the City of Red Deer could spend a $6 million federal grant for capital projects. (Advocate file photo)
City of Red Deer will get more money for road repairs in 2021 federal budget

More details are needed about grants for affordable housing and transit, says CFO

(Advocate file photo).
RDC wins two national awards for environmental initiatives

Clean50 and LEED awards were received for innovative, green projects

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins
Red Deer-Lacombe MP introduces bill to tackle rural crime

‘My constituents are tired of being victims’

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

The Rogers Logo is photographed on a Toronto office on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Rogers offers customers credit after massive outage but questions remain on Shaw deal

Rogers offers customers credit after massive outage but questions remain on Shaw deal

The Toronto Stock Exchange Broadcast Centre is shown in Toronto on Friday June 28, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
S&P/TSX composite has worst day in seven weeks on COVID infection concerns

S&P/TSX composite has worst day in seven weeks on COVID infection concerns

In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listen to Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read instructions to the jury before closing arguments, Monday, April 19, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
Ex-cop guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd case

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder… Continue reading

A Quebec Superior Court justice is set to issue a ruling Tuesday on the constitutionality of the province’s secularism law, known as Bill 21. People hold up signs during a demonstration against Bill 21 in Montreal, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Quebec court upholds most of province’s secularism law, exempts English school boards

MONTREAL — Quebec’s secularism law is largely legal, a Superior Court judge… Continue reading

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks during a press conference at the legislature in Victoria, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. The British Columbia government is providing a few more details about travel restrictions aimed at limiting movement around the province to slow the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Periodic roadblocks but no individual stops planned for B.C.’s COVID-19 travel rules

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is looking at using periodic roadblocks… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined virtually by Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland as they talk online to a group of front-line pharmacists from across the country to discuss the ongoing vaccination efforts in the fight against COVID‑19, from the Prime Ministers office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Provinces balk at Liberals’ child-care budget pledge as funding negotiations loom

OTTAWA — Multiple provincial governments are questioning the Liberals’ promise of a… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Trudeau, Freeland seeking AstraZeneca shots as they become age-eligible with others

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland… Continue reading

The Rogers Logo is photographed on a Toronto office on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Rogers says wireless service fully restored but questions remain after massive outage

A massive countrywide wireless outage that left millions of Rogers Communications Inc.… Continue reading

Most Read