#Afghan Protesters Demand Justice for Woman Killed by Mob – NYTimes.com

Hundreds of Afghan protesters marched to the nation’s Supreme Court on Tuesday, demanding justice for a woman who was beaten to death by a mob last week after being falsely accused of burning pages from the Quran.

The attack on the woman, a 27-year-old named Farkhunda, was recorded on video by bystanders and widely shared online. As extremely graphic images of the woman being kicked and hit with sticks and rocks circulated on social networks, Afghan rights advocates and the authorities appealed for help in identifying the men who had taken part in her killing.
At the protest on Tuesday, Pajhwok Afghan News reported, the demonstrators demanded that the attackers be arrested and chanted criticism of the police because in the footage officers could be seen failing to stop the assault.
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Video of a protest outside Afghanistan’s Supreme Court in Kabul on Tuesday.

Open Source
A column by Robert Mackey.

According to Tolo News, a Kabul broadcaster, Afghanistan’s interior minister, Noor-ul-Haq Ulumi, told Parliament on Monday that there was no evidence that the woman had desecrated Islam’s holy book. “Farkhunda was innocent and all the accusations against her were untrue,” he said.

As The Associated Press reported, the victim’s father, Mohammed Nadir, said that the attack stemmed from a dispute between Farkhunda, an observant Muslim scholar, and a cleric who sold amulets at the Shah-Do Shamshera shrine in central Kabul. After the young woman criticized the selling of charms, the cleric responded by making the false accusation that she had burned the Quran, and she was brutally assaulted by men enraged by her supposed blasphemy.

The man who made the accusation that set off the attack was reportedly among more than two dozen suspects taken into custody in recent days.
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The protesters called for a ban on the sale of amulets and demanded that a street near the shrine be renamed for Farkhunda.

President Ashraf Ghani, who is visiting Washington, denounced the killing and promised that it would be investigated by a special commission including religious authorities.
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Asked about the case in an interview with NPR, Mr. Ghani suggested that the Afghan people were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after so many years of war.

Hashmat Stanekzai, a spokesman for the Kabul police who suggested on Facebook last week that the killing of “an unbeliever” was justified, was fired on Tuesday along with a number of other officers, Reuters reported.
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When Farkhunda was buried on Sunday, her coffin was carried by women, not men, in a break from Afghan tradition.

Farkhunda’s father told BBC News that she was not, as the family initially said, mentally ill. The police had asked him to say that, he said, to lessen the chance of further attacks on the family of a woman accused of blasphemy.
Continue reading the main story A BBC News video report on the deadly assault in Kabul last week. BBC News, via YouTube

Activists from Afghanistan’s Solidarity Party, a small opposition group, rallied against the killing on Monday and planted a small tree at the spot on the riverbank where Farkhunda’s body was burned four days earlier.
Continue reading the main story A rally on Monday in Kabul by Afghan activists who denounced the killing of a young woman last week. Solidarity Party Afghanistan, via YouTube

Some women at the rally on Monday wore red masks, made from an image of Farkhunda’s face covered in blood during the attack.
Continue reading the main story Video of a protest in Kabul on Monday. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, via YouTube

In a post on the website of the Solidarity Party, under the headline “If We Don’t Stand Up As One, More Farkhundas Will Incinerate in the Inferno of Fundamentalism!,” the opposition activists wrote: “The hacking to death of Farkhunda was not an accident, but rather a product of a culture of traitor-nurturing and lionising of thugs who since decades — particularly during the last fourteen years — have ruled the country.”

Nushin Arbabzadah, an Afghan writer who teaches at U.C.L.A., was among those calling on witnesses to the killing to share video and images of the attack online so that the assailants could be arrested and prosecuted.

In a discussion of the case with another Afghan woman, Ms. Arbabzadah agreed that the killing of a woman was not new, but that the video evidence of the crime helped fuel the outraged reaction and the determination of female activists to fight for their rights.
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Afghan Protesters Demand Justice for Woman Killed by Mob – NYTimes.com.

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About angelajoya

Assistant Professor, Middle East Political Economy, at the University of Oregon. Currently writing on the Egyptian revolution and the Syrian crisis.
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