Three days ago I reported that an Afghan woman had been stoned to death in Kabul for supposedly burning a Qur’an in a shrine. I saw the videos of her violent execution, and they were horrific: men throwing huge rocks on top of her and stomping on her head, while a huge crowd gathered to cheer them on. It was one of the most horrific displays of human brutality I’ve seen. That video, somewhat bowdlerized, is now on YouTube with a warning, so if you want to see it—and are aware that it’s pretty shocking—go here.

Yesterday the Guardian revealed that the 27-year-old woman, named Farakhunda, didn’t even do what she was killed for.  They also noted that the police stood by and did nothing during the horrible murder. Finally, Farakunda wasn’t, as previously reported, mentally ill, which was the only reason I could think of why someone would burn a Qur’an at a Muslim shrine (unless she was committing “suicide by book burning”). The Guardian‘s words:

A woman killed by an angry mob in front of police in the Afghan capital last week for allegedly burning a copy of Islam’s holy book was wrongly accused, Afghanistan’s top criminal investigator has said.

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 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 Qur’an,” Gen 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.

Farkhunda was a teacher of Islamic studies, according to her brother, who denied media reports that she had been mentally ill. He said this was a made-up defence by their father, who wanted to protect the family after police told them to leave the city for their own safety.

So there we have it: another young life extinguished by religious lunatics driven mad by a work of fiction.


The UK website The Freethinker reports that at least one heartening thing that came from this tragedy. Reza Mohebbii, an Afghan living in Sweden (who posted a video about how he despises how Islam is ruining his natal land), also posted a YouTube video of him burning a Qur’an (the sound is a bit wonky, but the inaudible parts have English subtitles):

This is a brave man.

But, as The Freethinker reports, we have the predictable reactions. One came from Habib Abdolhossein (Google shows someone with that name is a correspondent for Press TV), who said this in the comments:

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I as a Muslim, am really shocked and ashamed of what an ignorant mob did in Kabul. But I think you could have expressed solidarity with Farkhondeh in a much better and decent way, without desecrating a book seen as sacred by over one billion people. She has fallen victim to the ignorance of a group of people who have no understanding of Islam. I’m sorry to say that there is no difference between what you did and the crime those uncivilized people committed. You can burn the ‘ordinary’ book but not the absolute truth of the Quran which has been speaking for more than 1400 years.

No, we should descrate the book by all means: to show that it’s just a book, to show that its words are hateful and inspire others to hatred, and to show that burning a book is an incredibly trivial “offense” compared to killing someone for supposedly doing the same thing.

Read some of the YouTube comments: it’s a mini-education in itself. I hope that YouTube doesn’t remove this video on the grounds that it hurts Muslim sentiments. If it does, I suggest we protest en masse.

h/t: Graham

By Karim

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