Afghans protest at lynching of woman for allegedly burning Koran

AFP , Tuesday 24 Mar 2015

Afghan men hold posters with the photo of Farkhunda and Persian that reads, "martyr Farkhunda,"during a protest demanding justice for her after she was beaten to death March 24, 2015 (Photo: AP)

Hundreds of protesters shouting "Down with ignorance!" urged the Afghan government Tuesday to bring to justice the killers of a woman lynched by a mob for allegedly burning the Koran.

Farkhunda, 27, was beaten with sticks and stones, thrown from a roof and run over by a car outside a mosque in Kabul last Thursday. The mob then set her body ablaze and dumped it in the Kabul river while several police officers looked on.

Demonstrators gathered in the rain outside the supreme court in Kabul, demanding justice.

"Down with ignorance! We want justice for Farkhunda," they shouted.

"She was our sister," said Ahmad Zia, one of the protesters. "The people who killed her had no respect for women, for law or for Sharia. Her brutal killing should bring a big change."

Some carried banners calling for the resignation of the city's police chief.

The demonstration followed a protest by scores of people Monday, demanding the killers be brought to justice.

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the killing as "heinous" and ordered an investigation into her death.

Interior Minister Noorulhaq Ulumi told parliament on Monday that Farkhunda had not in fact burnt a Koran.

"The accusation against her is completely invalid. Farkhunda was a religious girl, she was not involved (in burning the Koran), she was innocent," the minister said.

"It is very painful that we were not able to protect a pious young person. We hope this will not be repeated again."

His ministry said Tuesday its investigation had led to the arrest of 22 people as well as the detention and interrogation of 20 policemen following reports they did nothing to prevent the lynching.

Farkhunda's body was carried to the graveyard by women on Sunday, a break with the tradition that men should carry the coffin.

Allegations of Koran burnings have sparked violent incidents before in Afghanistan, a deeply conservative religious nation.

In 2012 the revelation that copies of the Koran had been burnt at the US-run Bagram prison sparked five days of violent anti-US riots and attacks across the country, in which 30 people died.

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