Mobs and murder

The brave response of Afghan women may be indicative of changes in their lives since the fall of the Taliban

Editorial March 24, 2015
Afghans from the Hmbastagi party (Solidarity Party of Afghanistan) wear masks during a protest to condemn the killing of 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, in Kabul March 23, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Farkhunda was not mentally ill and neither did she burn a copy of the Holy Quran. She was a scholar who had recently finished a degree in religious studies and was soon to take up a teaching post. Her fatal mistake that resulted in being beaten, thrown from a roof, run over by a car and finally burned before being thrown on to the banks of the Kabul River; was to challenge a group of men selling amulets outside a shrine. She called the sellers “parasites” and urged women not to buy amulets from them. This was her death sentence. Men accused her of “not being a Muslim” and from nowhere came the allegation of burning a copy of the Holy Quran. The mob that quickly formed acted as mobs tend to and Farkhunda became a bloodied beaten bundle of rags, the last shreds of her dignity stolen by the internet that was quickly awash with her journey to death. Many of the video clips show policemen looking on as the mob did its work.

The reaction of the women of Kabul the following day was remarkable. It broke both tradition and taboo as a large crowd of mostly unveiled women carried Farkhunda’s coffin to her grave. They were surrounded by a protective cordon of men. The funeral was broadcast live on Afghan television channels. Pakistan is familiar with such mob violence. What set it apart was the unity and strength shown by Afghan women in response. One can only hope that people here will learn some lessons from the reaction of the general public in Afghanistan, specifically the country’s women, and change the passive manner in which news of similar barbaric acts in Pakistan is received. The brave response of Afghan women may be indicative of changes in their lives since the fall of the Taliban; but many activists claim that in reality little has changed and women are still second-class citizens there. The reality is probably somewhere between the two — unbending conservatism and misogyny on one side, a fragile advance of women’s rights on the other. One hopes that this advance will be maintained once foreign troops have gone and the aid has dried up.

Published in The Express Tribune, March  25th,  2015.

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Wasim | 6 years ago | Reply While there can be no justification for the barbarity of torturing to death and the later lynching of an innocent woman, where and how does this incident give rise to such a senseless logic as women carrying her coffin and the like? It always comes as a great shock how some among us rarely miss an opportunity nowadays to make fun of our very religion and hence encourage and promote -- quite intentionally -- those who dare to go against its teachings. We need to keep a balance between the two extremes. It would be, under any circumstances, the right strategy.
Eddy | 6 years ago | Reply To Toticalling - this is Islam - welcome to reality. didn't you know Islam is the religion of Peace?
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