The murder of Farkhunda in March sparked the biggest women's protest in Afghanistan's historyby Zarghuna Kargar / August 4, 2015 / Leave a comment
Farkhunda Malikzada was a fine carpet weaver and a great cook. She always wore black, and recited the Koran early every morning. She was kind and loved her family. Like many other 27 year olds, she dreamt of starting a family of her own. Her mother, Bibi Hajera, cries as she talks about Farkhunda. “Mother,” she remembers her saying, “I don’t care if my future husband is poor or older than me; as long as he is educated and good looking, I will be very happy.” Most importantly, her mother tells me, “Farkhunda was brave and she wasn’t afraid of speaking her mind.”
On 19th March, Farkhunda was beaten to death by a mob in the streets of Kabul. She had argued with a caretaker at the Shah-Du Shamshera shrine about the practice of selling charms. During the confrontation, he accused her of burning the Koran, shouting: “In the name of God, kill her! She has burned the Koran!” Hundreds of men flocked to the shrine and began beating Farkhunda, while the police stood by after failing to control the crowd. They ran over her with a car, dragged her through the streets and set her body alight on the riverbank. Some of them filmed it on their mobiles. Within hours, the footage of Farkhunda’s murder had been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter. Some Afghan officials and religious leaders endorsed the actions of the mob on social media and to their congregations. Farkhunda’s death, and the reaction to it in Afghanistan, was also beginning to make headlines around the world.
As an Afghan woman who has reported for more than a decade about the life of women and girls there, I was determined to find out what had happened that day. I wanted to know what was really behind this brutal killing, and why the police failed to protect Farkhunda. In a forthcoming Our World documentary for BBC World News, we speak to Farkhunda’s family, and have the first interview with the family of one of the men imprisoned for her murder.
Farkhunda’s murder was condemned by President Ashraf Ghani, who ordered an immediate investigation…