A 27-year-old Afghan woman was buried Sunday after being beaten, pushed off a roof and stoned to death by an angry mob of men who believed she had been burning a Quran. The woman, known only as Farkhunda, was mentally ill, according to her family. The men who killed her then tied her body to a car, dragged it to a river, and burned her corpse.
A chilling New York Times account of Farkhunda's death says that she appeared at a shrine in Kabul on Thursday known as the King of Two Swords. She grew agitated and began shouting at the worshippers, then started pacing the courtyard outside, approaching a fire pit and standing near the flames. A shrine attendant told the Times several women started shouting that pages of the Quran were on fire. But the Times reports that one local news channel said the pages had been in Dari, a Persian dialect, not Arabic. According to the Associated Press, a senior detective has said there's no evidence she was burning a Quran.
Nontheless, one of the attendants grabbed the pages out of the fire and quickly began shouting that an "infidel woman" had burned the Quran; the mob quickly grew to hundreds, who began hitting her. At one point, bystanders apparently tried to haul her onto a nearby roof to save her, but she either fell or was pushed back into the crowd. Several cellphone videos of the assault have begun circulating. They show men beating and stomping her, sometimes with sticks, while others, including young boys, look on.
Thirteen police officers have been suspended for failing to intervene in the murder, and 26 people have been arrested so far. The Times report notes that some locals have responded with "approval" to her death, including a senior official in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, who said the attack might have been justified if she truly was burning a holy book.
Other Afghani citizens, particularly women, are demanding justice for her killing. On Sunday, a retinue of female activists carried her coffin. It is believed to be the first time that women have acted as pallbearers in the country, according to Courtney Body, a journalist based in Kabul:
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has reportedly convened a commission to investigate Farkundha's death.
Women carry Farkhunda's coffin on Sunday, March 22. Photo via AP