Updated 4/6/2015 A 27-year-old woman who was falsely accused of burning a copy of the Koran outside of a riverside mosque in a very poor part of Kabul, Afghanistan was brutally beaten and burned alive in March.
Shocking videos quickly spread on social media showing crowds of men surrounded by hundreds of onlookers assaulting the 27-year-old Farkhunda with bricks and sticks and repeatedly kicking her. The woman’s body was then thrown onto the banks of the Kabul River and was burned. Farkhunda’s parents told the police that their daughter was mentally ill and that she had not committed the act intentionally.
It was later revealed Farkhunda, was a religion student who confronted the mullah of the mosque with charging poor people for writing tahwiz, or verses from the Koran to bring an individual good luck and keep the person safe. She reportedly complained to him that her tahwiz did not bring her good luck. The mullah allegedly initiated the attack on Farkhunda.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior confirmed from his official Twitter account that four suspects had been arrested in connection with the attack, and a report from Tolo News claims that the police have detained 9 men accused of killing and burning woman in Kabul. Kabul’s head of criminal investigation said that the officers fired into the air to try to dispel the crowd, but that they reacted too late. Human rights groups, however, have raised concerns about whether enough was done to stop the mob.
Afghanistan’s President Ghani denounced the actions of these men in a statement, saying that “no one has the right to take it upon themselves to act as judge and court, nor to commit violence against anyone for any reason.” He ordered an inquiry into the attack to be conducted by the interior ministry together with the Ulama Council – which oversees religious issues – and the leadership of the mosque.
“I would certainly hope the government would be trying to arrest and prosecute everyone who was involved and doing an internal investigation into whether the police response was appropriate,” said Heather Barr, a senior researcher for women’s rights in Asia for Human Rights Watch.