There is a verdict in the horrific case that we discussed earlier involving the mob beating and burning of a woman named Farkhunda, 27. A judge has sentenced four of those responsible to death in Kabul. Eight other suspects received 16-year sentences. Eighteen others were found not guilty.
Farkhunda, 27, was actually a religious, veiled woman who had just finished a degree in religious studies and was preparing to take a teaching post. Moreover, she was set upon men who she accused of degrading Islam by selling amulets at Shah-Do Shamshera shrine. She reportedly told other women not to waste their money on such items and the sellers then started to shout that she was a non-Muslim and had burned a Koran.
She was beaten with a brick as a mob formed demanding her immediate death. Her body was set on fire and thrown on the bank of the Kabul river. Notably, two of the men arrested sold amulets. The videotapes show men struggling to get at the victim to participate in her beating. Others are shown yelling at her or laughing or simply videotaping the horrific scene.
Islamic clerics have denounced the arrest of the men and warned against any punishment and denounced those who have protested the murder.
Farkhunda’s parents said the killing was instigated by a local mullah of the Shah-e-Do Shamshera Mosque in the city’s center, who she had accused of distributing false tawiz (pieces of paper containing verses of the Quran which are sometimes worn as pendants to ward off evil and bring the wearer good luck). The local mullah is viewed by many as having accused her to protect himself from accusation.
While the government has stressed that there is no evidence that Farkhunda tore up a Koran, that should not be the focus of the government. It should not be an excuse for murder in either case. Indeed, destroying a religious book should not be a crime, though Afghanistan like other Islamic countries continue to arrest people for blasphemy and apostasy.
Notably, the remaining defendants are 19 policemen, and simply watched as the mob beat the woman, dragged her body behind a car before setting her on fire.
The positive element of the story is the swift arrest and prosecution of these men by the government, even with local mullahs denouncing the prosecution.