Kabul mob attack: Women help bury ‘wrongly accused’ Farkhunda

Hundreds of people attended her funeral on Sunday chanting “we want justice” and her coffin was carried by women.

farkundah funeral Capture

Afghan women’s rights activists carry the coffin of 27-year-old Farkhunda at her funeral in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The coffin of a woman, killed by a mob in Kabul on an apparently false charge, has been carried by women, marking a break with Afghan funeral customs.

Hundreds of people attended a funeral for the woman, named as Farkhunda, demanding her killers be punished.

Civil society activists bury Farkhunda

Women’s rights and civil society activists helped bury Farkhunda at the funeral in Kabul

Farkhunda had been accused of burning the Koran, but an official investigator said there was no evidence for this.

The attack on the woman, as well as the alleged failure of police to intervene, have been heavily criticised.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he had ordered an investigation into the killing.

Footage of the attack, filmed on mobile phones, has been widely circulated on social media.

Women at Farkhunda's funeral

The mourners demanded justice for Farkhunda

Picture of Farkhunda displayed at her funeral in Kabul, 22 March 2015

Picture of Farkhunda displayed at her funeral in Kabul, 22 March 2015

A mob, largely made of men, attacked the woman with sticks and stones, beating her to death before setting her body alight, while police reportedly looked on.

Witnesses said the crowd had accused the woman of burning a copy of the Koran.

The attack, near the Shah-Du-Shamshaira mosque and shrine, is thought to have been the first of its kind in Afghanistan.

At the funeral on Sunday, women’s activists carried the coffin, breaking with tradition as men usually perform that role.

An interior ministry official in charge of investigating the case said he had found no evidence that the woman had burnt the Koran.

“Farkhunda was totally innocent,” Gen Mohammad Zahir told reporters. He said 13 people, including eight police officers, had been arrested.

Mobile phone footage circulating on social media shows police at the scene did not save the 27-year-old woman, Farkhunda, who was beaten with sticks and set on fire by a crowd of men in central Kabul in broad daylight on Thursday.

warning graphic content Capture

Scene of the killing in Kabul. 20 March 2015

A blackened area by the river marks the spot where the woman’s body was burned

Afghan men feed pigeons in front of the Shah-Du-Shamshaira mosque, in Kabul, 11 September 2005

The woman was attacked outside the Shah-Du-Shamshaira mosque in Kabul

Earlier claims that the woman was mentally ill have also been contradicted by a relative and a neighbour.

Farkhunda’s brother told Reuters news agency that his sister was training to be a religious teacher. He said her father had said she was ill after hearing of her death, out of a desire to protect the rest of the family.

A neighbour of the family, interviewed by the Associated Press, also said the woman had no history of mental problems and had been training as a teacher.

Mobile phone footage circulating on social media shows police at the scene did not save the 27-year-old woman, Farkhunda, who was beaten with sticks and set on fire by a crowd of men in central Kabul in broad daylight on Thursday.

“Last night I went through all documents and evidence once again, but I couldn’t find any evidence to say Farkhunda burnt the Holy Koran,” General Mohammad Zahir told reporters at her funeral on Sunday. “Farkhunda was totally innocent.”

The top criminal investigator promised to punish all those involved and said 13 people, including eight police officers, had already been arrested.

The killing was condemned by the Afghan president and other officials, but also drew praise from some quarters, including from a prominent cleric, who asserted the men had a right to defend their Muslim beliefs at all costs.

The US has spent millions of dollars on programmes designed to empower and educate Afghan women.

However, women in much of the country still suffer discrimination, and attacks on them often go unpunished.

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