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Protesters Demand Justice For Afghan Woman Lynched By Mob

  • RFE/RL

Hundreds of people rallied in the Afghan capital on March 23, demanding justice for a woman killed by a mob that accused her of burning the Koran.

The victim, identified as Farkhunda, a 27-year-old religious school student, was beaten to death by a crowd outside a prominent Kabul mosque on March 19.

Her body was set on fire and thrown into a river.

Police say there is no evidence to support the Koran-burning allegation.

Interior Minister Noorulhaq Ulumi told parliament on March 23 that "the accusation against her is completely invalid."

"Farkhunda was a religious girl; she was not involved [in burning the Koran]. She was innocent," Ulumi said.

Protesters in Kabul blocked the road outside the mosque and marched along the riverside route from where the attack began to the point where Farkhunda's body was set alight.

Many women in the crowd wore masks bearing an image of Farkhunda's bloodied face that has been widely circulated on social media.

A rally participant, Maliha Arghawan, said she "was shocked that without any accurate information" the mob attacked and killed a person.

"We ask the government and police why this incident happened," she said.

"I strongly condemn this brutal act and I call it inhumane and immoral," said another protester, Zohrullah Rahmani.

Farkunda was buried on March 22, her coffin carried to the cemetery by women's right activists, who defied the tradition of men-only pallbearers and funerals.

President Ashraf Ghani, who began a visit to the United States on March 22, has condemned the killing and ordered an investigation.

Authorities have arrested 13 people in connection with the killing and have suspended 13 policemen based in the area following allegations that they stood by and did nothing to stop the attack.

Activists say more demonstrations are planned throughout the week to maintain pressure on authorities to ensure women's rights and protection from violence at every level of society.

Allegations of Koran-burning have sparked violent incidents before in Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa

PHOTO GALLERY: Farkhunda's burial