It started very small; none of us had a plan. When I saw on Facebook that Farkhunda would be buried on Sunday morning, I quickly posted the information on my timeline and got myself together. I wore black, for my sorrow; I wore trainers on my feet, so that I could be strong.
My daughter Regwida and I went to the graveyard where Farkhunda would be buried. I wanted to express our sorrow, nothing more. There was just one other woman there.
But more and more women began to arrive. Soon we were about 35, all come to pay their respects to this martyr of .
You know Farkhunda: she was the young woman – just 27 – in the centre of Kabul last week. This did not happen in some remote village, in some dark area, but right in our capital, among police checkpoints, embassies, ministries. Even the presidential palace is nearby.
A mullah said that Farkhunda had burned the Qu’ran. ; all she did was tell him that his business of selling tawiz – small scraps of paper with religious verses that are supposed to be powerful spells – was against Islam.
This mullah began to yell that Farkhunda had desecrated the holy book. Soon a crowd formed, and began to beat her with sticks, stones, their feet. They tied her to a car and dragged her through the streets; they threw her body on the riverbank and set it alight.
I do not know what made these men so wild. I do not know what was in their hearts. They shouted “Allahu Akbar!” as they killed her. As a Muslim, it is painful to hear “God is great” chanted while taking an innocent life. It is a manipulation of the I know, which promises women their rights – to be educated and to have a voice.
Some of our public figures approved of the killing. Afghan cleric Maulawi Ayaz Niyazi said the people who killed Farkhunda . The deputy minister of information and culture, Simin Hassanzada, agreed.
Farkhunda was laid out on a playground, where children play football. There was no room in the graveyard itself.
Maulawi Niyazi came to pray over her body, but I stood in front of him and told him, respectfully: “Sir, we do not allow you to pray for Farkhunda.”
He had a man with him who said: “This is our dead body. Who do you think you are?”
I told him: “This is not your dead body. Farkhunda belongs to all of the women of Kabul, of Afghanistan. Her body belongs to all Afghan mothers.”
The other girls started to shout, “We do not want Niyazi here.” And he left.
When the time came to take the body to the grave, the women said they would do it. They did not allow a man to touch Farkhunda.
Her brother said Farkhunda’s sister should take his place.
It was the very first time in Afghanistan – maybe in all the Islamic world – that women took a dead body to the grave.
Men from Farkhunda’s family made a ring around us to protect us. They supported us and respected us.
I think that if such a small number of women could make such a big change in the minds of so many men, we can do anything.
The . The word spread on Facebook, on Twitter, on Viber. We were in touch with the whole world; everyone supported us.
It began to rain on that morning. I was afraid that no one would come. But when we arrived at Massoud Circle, there were thousands of people. Every political party was there, as well as civil society organisations, women’s rights activists, university students and ordinary people. There were women in full chadori, only their eyes exposed; there were 12-year-old girls. There were men and boys.
We all came together with one voice, with one goal: justice for Farkhunda.
We marched in the rain, all the way to the supreme court and back. We shouted, “Farkhunda is our sister!”, “We want justice!” and “We have been silent long enough!”
I think the most moving tribute was from Rawand-e-Sabz, the organised by the former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh.
There were a lot of men and boys, all with green scarves or ribbons around their necks, standing silently along the route, with their heads bowed.
“We are ashamed,” said Saleh, who attended the rally. “We are ashamed that we could not defend Farkhunda.”
There are people who want harsh punishment for those who killed Farkhunda. Some say that the mullah who started it should be burned, the way they burned Farkhunda. But if we do that, how are we different from them? We have laws, we have a policy. They should be punished according to the law.
At the end of the demonstration, a bunch of men showed up and began to shout: “Allahu Akbar!”
Some people think they may have been sent to make trouble. But I prefer to think that even they were supporting us, supporting Farkhunda.
I have hope for my country. People all over Afghanistan, in Badakhshan, in Herat, in Bamyan, all are saying the killing of Farkhunda was bad. Even the Taliban have come out to say it was not a good thing.
So I am optimistic. I hope that I am right.