KABUL -- A female Afghan lawmaker who slapped and cursed a police officer during a Kabul traffic stop is defending her actions, telling RFE/RL the officer first struck her with his fist, pushed her, insulted her, and smashed the butt of his rifle against her car in an attempt to provoke her.
Afghanistan’s acting Interior Minister Masud Andarabi has praised the officer for “showing patience” and not retaliating when he was slapped in the face on March 17 by parliamentary deputy Parwin Durrani.
The officer, identified by the authorities as “Yassin” from the Interior Ministry’s 01 Unit in Kabul, has also been praised on social media by many Afghans after video showing part of the altercation was circulated online:
And many Afghans, angered by what was captured on the video, are now calling for Durrani to be put on trial for attacking a uniformed police officer.
As that video clip begins, Durrani can be heard shouting “damn your father” in Dari as she confronts the officer from a close distance at a Kabul roundabout near the U.S. Embassy.
The police officer responds by forcefully shoving Durrani backwards against her car and she nearly loses her balance.
Durrani approaches him again and continues to insult him with profanities as she tries to slap him, but he blocks the blow and scolds her, saying, “You are a member of parliament.”
She replies: “I am a member of parliament. There will be consequences.”
The officer then asks Durrani to show him a special Interior Ministry permit required in Kabul for her bulletproof car. She tells him she doesn’t have the card.
When the officer tells Durrani, “You should be ashamed of your behavior,” she slaps his face and continues to curse him.
'It Was A Setup'
Durrani tells RFE/RL she thinks the incident was set up by officials in Afghanistan’s central government who want to defame her and prevent her from taking up a seat when the next Afghan parliament convenes.
She says she’d been stopped at the same traffic circle, Masud Circle, three days earlier because of the tinted, bulletproof windows on her car.
On March 17, she says, cameramen were already posted at the roundabout when her car was stopped in the same place.
Durrani says her own video footage of the March 17 incident captured the voice of the officer she slapped telling a cameraman to “film it, quickly.”
“That means it was a setup, and I think it was meant to destroy my reputation,” Durrani said.
Durrani won more than 4,000 votes from Kabul in October in her bid to be reelected as a representative for the nomadic Kochi in Afghanistan’s lower chamber of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga.
But in February, all votes cast in Kabul Province were invalidated over fraud allegations -- effectively stalling the official release of results and preventing the new parliament from convening.
As of March 19, only 123 of the 250 Wolesi Jirga seats have been certified. If the results for the remaining seats are canceled, Durrani would have to run again in a new ballot.
“They tried to provoke me to make me angry and they insulted me,” Durrani told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan about the police who stopped her on March 17, adding that the officer she slapped started to hit her car before she got out of the vehicle.
“I was scared to open the door of the car. I was afraid they would attack me,” Durrani said in a video she made for social media on March 18 to explain her version of the altercation:
“I was afraid I would be another Farkhunda,” Durrani said, referring to Farkhunda Malikzada -- an Afghan woman who was brutally beaten to death by an angry mob in Kabul in March 2015.
Durrani told RFE/RL she decided to get out of her car to film the officer she later slapped because he was “beating my car with his gun.”
“Then he started hitting me with his fist and he pushed me, and I have footage to prove it,” she said. “That’s why I retaliated and slapped the guy and insulted him.”
“They didn’t have any reason to do that to me,” Durrani said. “I didn’t have any bodyguards. I didn’t cause any problems. I didn’t have weapons.”
“I was beaten and I retaliated courageously,” she told RFE/RL. “I could not tolerate that he assaulted me and insulted me. I am a female diplomat and a politician. If he had insulted his own mother and sisters, they would have responded in the same way. I will leave it to God to be the judge.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said the online video of Durrani slapping the officer proves that “crime is completely evident” in the case.
Rahimi said the ministry’s Kabul Police Command “has been ordered to take legal actions” under a special constitutional provision regarding parliamentary deputies.
That provision, Article 102, allows authorities to summon an accused lawmaker for questioning “without the permission of the house of which the accused is a member” in cases of an “evident crime.”
It says holding an Afghan lawmaker in detention requires approval of their parliamentary chamber.
If parliament is in recess, as it is now, the constitution says permission for detention of an accused lawmaker “shall be obtained from the administrative board” of their chamber and “the issue shall be referred to the first session” after the chamber reconvenes.
Durrani tells RFE/RL she was summoned to the Interior Ministry on March 19 and instructed that she must report to the Kabul Police Command.
“I cannot escape from the law, and I will not try to do so,” she said.